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Accounts assistant, 38, swindled her bosses out of £44,000 before splashing the cash on luxury trips including holiday to New York and a stay at…

  • Sharin Mooney stole tens of thousands of pounds from energy company
  • 38-year-old posted photos of herself on social media enjoying luxury trips
  • Mooney bought specialist document-altering software on the internet

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A woman stole 44,000 from her bosses to pay for luxuries including a trip to New York and jewellery from Tiffany & Co. Sharin Mooney doctored invoices under the noses of her managers at a wind farm firm for nearly nine months before her swindle began to unravel. The 38-year-old accounts assistant used some of the stolen money to fund a stay at New York’s iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel, before posting a picture of herself on Facebook with Manhattan’s Times Square in the background.

High life: A court heard how Sharin Mooney posted images of herself in New York City, after stealing some 44,000 from her bosses

On her Twitter account, Mooney posted: ‘Cocktails solve all the problems.’

Mooney – who hasn’t paid back a penny of what she stole – bought specialist document-altering software on the internet, a court heard. She used it to change a series of invoices in order for money to pour directly into her personal bank account, Greenock Sheriff Court was told. The largest of the payments, for 8,000, was siphoned into her account just before she jetted off to America.

Prosecutor Pamela Brady said suspicions arose after a staff member noticed a ‘discrepancy’ with a copy invoice and had asked Mooney to help locate the original. Mooney bought specialist document-altering software on the internet in order to carry out the scam for several months

Mrs Brady said: ‘A number of weeks went by and the accused did not produce the invoice. She said that she was too busy.’

Bosses at 2020 Renewables in Greenock, Scotland, launched a probe and uncovered a total of eight transactions of company cash into Mooney’s account between April 2 and December 23, 2014.

Mrs Brady said: ‘The total amounted to some 44,000.

‘The managing director called a meeting with the company solicitor and the accused admitted that she had stolen the money.

‘She stated that she had financial problems.’

Sheriff Hamilton warned Mooney she faces a possible jail term when she returns to Greenock Sheriff Court (pictured), for sentencing next month

As well as her New York trip, Mooney made a purchase from luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co and paid for numerous airline flights. Mrs Brady said: ‘There were payments to what appeared to be loan companies but there were also a number of leisure activities, restaurant bills, flight costs and significant spending in New York City.’

Defence lawyer Ellen Macdonald said: ‘Luxury items were purchased but there were also considerable payments to payday loans – sometimes three or four in one day.’

Ms Macdonald said that Mooney, from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, took on ‘family debt’ following the sudden death of her father. Sheriff Hamilton warned Mooney she faces a possible jail term when she returns to court for sentencing next month.

She is due to be sentenced on August 17.

UK’s busiest tour operator Thomson scraps holiday brochures

The joy of curling up on the sofa on a dreary winter s evening and flicking through a Discount Holidays © holiday brochure s pictures of sunny beaches and luxury resorts is under threat. The travel company behind Thomson and First Choice is to phase out its brochures by 2020. German-owned TUI, the UK s largest tour operator, says the move is because most of us now use the internet to research our holidays.

UK's Busiest Tour Operator Thomson Scraps <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Brochures

German-owned TUI, the UK s largest tour operator, says the decision to phase out Discount Holidays © holiday brochures by 2020 was made because most of us now use the internet to research our breaks (pictured: a brochure from 1971)

This could spell the end of glossy travel brochures, which helped fuel the rise of cheap package holidays and became known for their flowery, often euphemistic descriptions. The term lively was used to describe crowds of drunken Club 18-30 holidaygoers partying around the clock, while walking distance to the beach could mean a route march in 90-degree heat crossing busy roads. TUI, which serves more than 5.5million customers a year and currently prints 4.7million brochures a year under 58 titles at a cost of millions of pounds, believes the entire Discount Holidays © holiday booking process has changed in the era of the internet. The move to scrap brochures is part of a wider modernisation programme at the company.

Thomson s new branches, called Discount Holidays © holiday design stores , do not have brochure racks but boast gadgets such as iPads and interactive maps. TUI has also launched a phone and tablet app, mobile-friendly website and an Apple TV app.

UK's Busiest Tour Operator Thomson Scraps <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Brochures UK's Busiest Tour Operator Thomson Scraps <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Brochures

The travel company behind Thomson and First Choice is to phase out its brochures by 2020 (pictured: brochure from 1901, left, and 1961, right)

The operator, which is phasing out the famous Thomson and First Choice names in favour of TUI across its 600 branches, is also considering introducing free Wi-Fi and virtual reality headsets in its stores. It also plans to invest more heavily in online videos to bring holidays to life . TUI s UK director Nick Longman said: Things have moved on.

Before Google images and picture and video sharing websites Instagram and YouTube, the Discount Holidays © holiday brochure was the only way a customer could get a glimpse of their future escape to the sun.

‘They would visit their local travel agent, pick up their brochures and spend hours leafing through the pages of hotels, with a cup of tea in hand, wishing they were there.

‘As a leading retailer we need to adapt and stay relevant.

UK's Busiest Tour Operator Thomson Scraps <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Brochures

TUI has launched a phone and tablet app, mobile-friendly site and an Apple TV app (pictured: 1996 brochure)

We are not getting rid of brochures to save costs. We are going to reinvest that money in new experiences for the customer. But the move to dump brochures has been criticised by some independent travel agents, who say it will make it more difficult for them to showcase and sell holidays.

They also warned some older people who struggle with the internet will find it more difficult to book holidays. The first brochure published by Thomson was in 1953 for SkyTours, while rival Thomas Cook began publishing Discount Holidays © holiday handbooks from 1845. Thomas Cook is not thought to be considering scrapping brochures at the moment.

22 reasons to make Portugal your next holiday

1. The football

Portugal s unexpected victory at Euro 20161 will ignite interest in a sport that already enjoys semi-religious status across the country. There are bountiful opportunities to watch a game, but for something special head to Est dio Municipal de Braga, a stadium carved out of a rock.

Listen out for the phrase o jogo Ingl s , which means the English game and is used disparagingly to describe boring football.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday The beautiful game in beautiful surrounds at the Est dio Municipal de Braga Credit: GETTY

2. Lisbon s timeworn charm

Set against the ever-present backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean, this dainty sun-kissed city lives in a Latin fairytale of timeworn manners and traditions, says Telegraph Travel s Lisbon expert, Guyan Mitra2. Check out the century-old wooden trams and iron funiculars that still lurch and rumble their way through the city. Or witness the best of this bygone heritage by wandering through the Baixa district, where age-old herbalists, haberdashers and tailors rub shoulders in the baroque streets of the ornate city centre.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday Portugal’s capital is a “Latin fairytale” according to our expert Credit: AP/FOTOLIA

3. Pretty Porto

With its medieval heart, contemporary buzz, magnificent gold-leaf-laced churches oh, and a rather nice signature tipple Portugal s second city merits a visit at any time, writes Telegraph Travel s Adrian Bridge3. Carved in two by the Douro river, downtown Porto has a faded sophistication, while the seaside suburbs have witnessed something of a renaissance in recent years, home as they are to a burgeoning collection of bars, restaurants and cafes, which offer an authentic slice of local life.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday Boats float on the Douro river, which wends through pretty Porto Credit: AP/FOTOLIA

4. The wine, of course

Portugal s national drink (port or porto) is ubiquitous across the country, particularly in its eponymous home. Any bar and restaurant worth its salt will sell the fortified wine, but for larger quantities head to one of Portugal s plentiful off-licences, which sell anything from dusty, 100-year-old bottles worth ‘ 1,000, to more affordable vintages.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday Barrells are stacked up in one of Porto’s many subterranean wine cellars Credit: AP/FOTOLIA

5. The Harry Potter connection

JK Rowling used to teach English in Porto back in the 1990s and was a regular at the Livraria Lello bookstore, which is one of the most famous shops in the city. Apparently, its decorative bookcases, carved wooden ceilings and lavish staircases inspired the Hogwarts Library in her Harry Potter books.

6. Freshly-baked pastel de natas

Nowhere does custard tarts (or pastel de natas, as they re called here) quite like Portugal. And perhaps nowhere in Portugal does them as well as Pasteis de Bel m in Lisbon, which is why queues for the sweet, rich and perfectly crisp tarts often stretch along the pavement.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday These custard tarts are probably reason enough to pay Portugal a visit Credit: AP/FOTOLIA

7. The weather

Perched on the western edge of Europe, Lisbon is the continent s sunniest capital city, boasting an average of 2,799 hours of sunshine a year, pipping Athens4, which has 2,771 hours of sun a year, to the post.

8. It has Madeira

Madeira is not Ibiza. It attracts a more mature clientele, and raving is limited to enthusing about the island s dramatic scenery and botanical wonders, writes Telegraph Travels destinations expert, Gavin Bell5.

Bell was particularly enthused by the island s cornucopia of fine food and wine, plus the landscapes which he said could be dreamt up by JRR Tolkien .

9. Your pound goes further

Brexit might be hitting our wallets, but Portugal is softening the blow. Yes, it takes the euro, but the country remains one of the most affordable destinations on the Continent, offering visitors the elegance of Western Europe for Eastern European prices. In fact, in its last Discount Holidays © Holiday Costs survey, Post Office Travel Money declared Portugal the second best value destination for a European getaway, after Bulgaria.

Pound performing well6

10. This bridge

Located in Lisbon, this record-breaking structure is named after the famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday At 10.7 miles, the Vasco de Gama Bridge is Europe’s longest Credit: AP/FOTOLIA

11. You can whack people with mallets

St John s Day (June 23) is celebrated with gusto in Porto, which commemorates the saint with church services, all-night parties and, weirdly, inflatable mallets, which are used to club fellow revellers with.

12. The beaches are exquisite

Portugal s exquisite coastline, reliable weather and fine seaside resorts make it one of Europe s best destinations for a beach break7.

Europe’s 52 best secret beaches8

13. The waves, man

Thanks to the rolling swell of the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is one of Europe s best surfing destinations with a wave for every ability. Best of all the breaks are relatively uncrowded.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next HolidaySurfer stuns crowd on huge wave in Portugal Play! 00:57

14. It boasts Europe s answer to Hawaii

Floating in the Atlantic Ocean, some 850 miles from mainland Portugal, the Azores islands were described as the Hawaii of the Atlantic9 by Telegraph Travel s Chris Leadbeater. They are lost in deep seas; steep-sided, beautiful, wild, he wrote. This is not to say the weather matches the glow of Pacific America cloud and rain dog the Azores as much as sunshine but such climactic inconstancy only adds to the aesthetic. Every day is different.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday The Azores is one of the best spots in Europe to go whale watching Credit: AP/FOTOLIA

15. Its secret cities

Everyone has heard of Lisbon and Porto, but how about Guimar es, Tavira and Sintra10? If those names don t ring any bells you re missing out on an opportunity to discover what Portuguese cities were like before the tourists arrived.

European cities11

16. Opulent hotels abound

And because money goes further in Portugal, a luxury stay is refreshingly affordable.

Portugal best hotels12

17. The nightlife

From the thronging streets of Lisbon and Porto to the pumping seaside resorts of the Algarve, Portugal s love for a night on the tiles is no secret. Less known, however, is the country s growing affection for Afro-house, which is being imported from Africa like its going out of fashion. The genre has found fertile ground in Lisbon s vivacious clubbing scene, but it s poised to spread across the country.

18. Fado bars

At the core of Portugal’s musical tradition is the distinctive song form, fado literally “fate” which is predominantly slow, resigned and melancholy in character. The music is lyrical, soulful and accompanied by guitars the Spanish-style guitar known in Portuguese as viola and the Portuguese pear-shaped guitarra. To catch a live performance drop into one of the country s wonderful fado houses.

22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday The haunting melodies of Fado will stay with you long after you’ve left Portugal Credit: ALAMY

19. It s home to Europe s most underrated river

The Douro might not conjure the imagery of the Seine or even the Thames, but it s comfortably one of the most beautiful waterways in Europe, as it snakes through vineyards, bucolic villages and Porto, where it is spanned by the city s iconic iron bridge.

Douro in pictures13

20. There s a chapel made from bones

The interior of the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) in Evora14 is, rather morbidly, decorated with human skulls and bones from some 5,000 corpses. The chapel was built by a Franciscan monk in the 16th century, who wanted to remind worshippers that life is transitory.

21. It has one of Europe s best pools

The Le a Swimming Pool complex, designed by the eminent Portuguese architect, Alvaro Siza, is one the Continent s best bathing spots. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Le a da Palmeira, near Porto, its saltwater swimming pools are carved into the rugged shore and are popular with architecture aficionados as well as bathers.

22. It s home to Serralves

The most visited museum in Portugal, Serralves is also one of Europe s most influential contemporary arts museums. Located in Porto, this wonderful exhibition space sits in manicured gardens, which are scattered with works from the likes of Richard Serra and Claes Oldenburg.

The best hotels in Portugal

  • 22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday

    9 Telegraph expert rating

    Vila Vita Parc has commanding sea views with direct access to the beach and something for everyon… Read expert review15

  • 22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday

    9 Telegraph expert rating

    The Algarve s most hedonistic retreat, set on cliffs overlooking the sea, offers two-star Micheli… Read expert review16

  • 22 Reasons To Make Portugal Your Next Holiday

    8 Telegraph expert rating

    Six Senses have chosen the unspoilt, natural landscape of the Douro Valley for their European deb… Read expert review17

References

  1. ^ Portugal s unexpected victory at Euro 2016 (www.discountholidays.info)
  2. ^ says Telegraph Travel s Lisbon expert, Guyan Mitra (www.discountholidays.info)
  3. ^ writes Telegraph Travel s Adrian Bridge (www.discountholidays.info)
  4. ^ Athens (www.discountholidays.info)
  5. ^ writes Telegraph Travels destinations expert, Gavin Bell (www.discountholidays.info)
  6. ^ Pound performing well (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)
  7. ^ Europe s best destinations for a beach break (www.discountholidays.info)
  8. ^ Europe’s 52 best secret beaches (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)
  9. ^ the Hawaii of the Atlantic (www.discountholidays.info)
  10. ^ Sintra (www.discountholidays.info)
  11. ^ European cities (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)
  12. ^ Portugal best hotels (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)
  13. ^ Douro in pictures (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)
  14. ^ Evora (www.discountholidays.info)
  15. ^ Read expert review (www.discountholidays.info)
  16. ^ Read expert review (www.discountholidays.info)
  17. ^ Read expert review (www.discountholidays.info)

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