Friday 19 December 2014

Former garda jailed over €50k he stole by falsely claiming wife had cancer

Brendan Furlong

Published 16/07/2014 | 02:30

Former garda Noel Fitzhenry outside court yesterday. Photo: Brownepix
Former garda Noel Fitzhenry outside court yesterday. Photo: Brownepix

A GARDA who is a member of a well-known GAA family has been jailed for a year after pleading guilty to the theft of more than €50,000.

Noel Fitzhenry (46), a married father of four, admitted to seven counts of theft involving a number of local people in Glynn, Co Wexford, between July 1, 2009, and June 1, 2012.

Wexford Circuit Criminal Court heard that he needed €180,000 for treatment in America for his wife whom he claimed was suffering from cancer.

Fitzhenry, of Springmount, Rathnure, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, had served over 20 years as a member of An Garda Siochana, previously been stationed in Dundalk and Wexford, before serving in Glynn just outside Wexford town.

Supt William Carolan informed Judge Barry Hickson the money was lodged and quickly removed from his account through an ATM or through withdrawals, while none of the money has been returned.

Supt Carolan said it was never traced what the money was actually for. He also said that the defendant's wife never had cancer and never went to America.

The defendant, said Supt Carolan, would have been well known in GAA circles and would have been highly regarded and liked in the area.

The charges against Fitzhenry included that he took €8,000 from local Killurin publican Declan Roche; €19,400 from Joseph Moran, of Ballyhogue; along with €10,000 from David Dempsey, a company director from Killurin, Co Wexford.

He was further charged with receiving €10,000 from Mr Dempsey; a cheque from Ciaran Corish, a publican, which was not cashed; along with €1,000 from Jim Meyler, a local farmer; and €2,800 of Mr Moran which had been handed over to the defendant following an accident which he had investigated but the money was not refunded.

Judge Hickson sentenced him to two years in prison on each of the first three counts, the sentences to run concurrently. However he suspended one year on each count.

John Walsh, defending, said the accused's family had gotten into financial difficulties and now live in rented accommodation after once owning two homes.

Trust

The common theme running through the various reports, said Mr Walsh, was the change in his mental state through stress, and work-related stress, and having to live on a net income of €28 per month when the deductions were taken from them.

The court heard that Fitzhenry had lost almost everything, while his family had raised €7,500 to be distributed at the court's discretion.

Judge Hickson said the offences went on over a period of three years where he stole money from people who were friendly with him and who admired him.

He had read the medical reports but as a consequence of his involvement in this, this has been a calamity for the Fitzhenry family.

He said the defendant was not alone into falling into financial difficulties in this country but like many an Irishman he lived beyond his means.

It's a common situation in Ireland where people had a financial situation that collapsed around them.

Most people would like to feel that they responded honourably, people had to adjust to that situation, possibly through bankruptcy and start afresh.

The defendant, he said, did not do that but he embarked on a nasty series of thefts.

He betrayed the trust in him and there is no hope of him ever giving the money back.

The defendant told his victims a tale of tragedy concerning his wife. he conned decent people including a 94-year-old man.

He had betrayed the trust in him and there is no hope of him giving the money back.

Irish Independent

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