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Sunday 21 September 2014

Former carer who stole money from 87-year-old patient convicted

Nicola Donnelly

Published 13/03/2014 | 16:40

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The whole incident was caught on CCTV cameras, Balbriggan District Court heard.

A former carer who stole money from an 87-year-old patient in what a judge has called a 'despicable act' has been convicted.

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Jackie Gallagher removed €50 from the purse of the elderly patient, who suffers from dementia, because she claimed she did not have enough money for petrol. The whole incident was caught on CCTV cameras, Balbriggan District Court heard.

Gallagher (53) of Flemington Park in Balbriggan pleaded guilty to the theft of €50 from the elderly patient's purse at Baldrumman Manor in Lusk on April 18th, 2013.

Inspector Kieran Houlihan told the court that Gallagher, who has no previous convictions, was attending the home of the victim and removed the money from the victim's purse.

Defence barrister Lisa Daly said Gallagher co-operated the gardai to which Judge Dermot Dempsey remarked: 'She would wouldn't she as it was caught on CCTV.'

Ms Daly said the married mother-of-two is a qualified nurse but suffered an injury several years ago which prevented her from working in that field.

She said Gallagher then worked as a Health Check nurse at a pharmacy before becoming a carer.

Ms Daly said Gallagher started to suffer from depression ten years ago and dealt with it by turning to alcohol in 2009.

After attending a number of hospitals to get help with her depression and anxiety attacks, Gallagher then began working as a carer again.

'Her difficulty with alcohol took hold again and the theft incident occurred when she didn't have enough money for petrol,' Ms Daly explained. She said Gallagher recognises the stupidity of taking money from someone she cared for and is 'horrified' with her actions.

'She has apologised to her employer and the family of the victim. She hasn't drank since April 2013 and attends Alcoholic Anonymous three times a week,' added Ms Daly.

Ms Daly said Gallagher is no longer working as a carer and now sells electronic cigarettes and babysits children.

'She fully realises what her actions has done to her life and she is embarrassed and upset. A conviction would have a detrimental effect on her life,' Ms Daly said. 'It is a terrible breach of trust,' she added.

Judge Dempsey remarked what sort of message would it send out if he did not hand Gallagher a conviction.

'This is a despicable act. The victim is a vulnerable person and I cannot see a way out of custody,' remarked Judge Dempsey.

'I cannot allow this to go unpunished,' added Judge Dempsey and convicted and fined Gallagher €750.

He fixed recognisance in the event of an appeal.

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