Trusted Scots employee who embezzled £75k while boss was dying dodges jail

Marie Magunnigle
-Credit: (Image: Pressteam)

A callous finance worker who claimed her dying boss had given her permission to take £75,000 of company cash has dodged jail.

Marie Magunnigle, 64, was employed by roads firm Coneworx but investigations after boss John Tiffen passed away revealed she had plundered thousands from their accounts.

Magunnigle had been promoted to financial director to support Tiffen's daughter Ainsley, 32, find her feet as the new boss.
But a probe was launched after two payments of £1,000 were made to her account with no explanation.

An accountant found a string of discrepancies between November 2017 and September 2020 which were ruled 'deliberate and fraudulent'.

She was sacked in October 2020 before a further probe revealed she had swiped £10,000 as Tiffen lay in intensive care in hospital.
Magunnigle, of Wishaw, Lanarkshire, denied any wrongdoing and went on trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court but was convicted of embezzling £75,050 by a jury.

Sheriff Michael Higgins ordered her to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and tagged her for the next 10 months as a 'direct alternative' to jail.

She was also put under supervision for 18 months.

Giving evidence to depute fiscal Rebecca Clark, Ainsley Tiffen told how her trust in Magunnigle had been shattered.

She said: "I fully trusted Marie and was shocked and surprised.

"It was very stressful going through the transactions and it showed Marie had paid herself an extra £10,000 on the day they were trying to put my dad onto a ventilator and she would have been fully aware of what was happening."

Tiffen added: "I feel like we were taken advantage of when we were in a very vulnerable situation.

"We fully trusted Marie to make sure the company was running as normal when we were more focused on my dad because he was so ill."

Magunnigle claimed John Tiffen had given her permission to take cash even when he was in intensive care before his death in October 2019.

She said: "John had already been in hospital and was contacting me back and forward from the hospital and was phoning me from intensive care.

"You could hardly make out what he was saying but, although he was like that, he still knew exactly what was happening and said I was due £10,000.

"I'm asking the jury to believe that all the money was given to me by John Tiffen, there was not a penny went out of that account that he didn't know about."

When asked if she believed Ainsley Tiffen was a liar, Magunnigle replied: "Yes I do say that she's a liar. She wanted me out of the company and this is payback."

The court heard Magunnigle had repaid £83,000 to Coneworx which included solicitor fees and interest

Gavin Lawson, defending, said: "She maintains and stands by the evidence that she provided during the trial but accepts that a jury of her peers convicted her of this very serious matter.

"She finds herself standing in this court with her reputation and her life's work lying in tatters at her feet."

Sheriff Higgins said: "The offence the jury found you guilty of involved you embezzling a significant amount of money from your employer while you were in a position of trust and it is a very serious offence.

"The report before the court says that you are thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed at finding yourself in court at the age of 64.

"I'm satisfied that the offence crosses the custodial threshold but having considered all matters, including the gravity of the offence and that you have repaid all of the money involved, I've decided that there is a community-based disposal available."

Wishaw-based Coneworx provide traffic management systems to clients including local authorities and civil engineers.

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