independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Woman denies taking €30,000 from 87-year-old patient's bank account

Josephine O’Brien, who is accused of 10 charges of stealing money from Stephen O’Halloran (87)

An 87-year-old care home patient told a court yesterday that a woman did not have his consent to withdraw over €30,000 from his bank account over a three-year period.

At the Circuit Court, Stephen O'Halloran, a patient at St Joseph's Hospital in Ennis, said Josephine O'Brien (59) of Bridge View, Ennis, Co Clare, did not have his consent to make withdrawals totalling €30,152 from his bank account between 2008 and December 2010.

In the case, Ms O'Brien has pleaded not guilty to 10 separate charges of stealing the money from Mr O'Halloran.

In an interview with gardai, Ms O'Brien said that she used some of the money to open up a drop-in centre for the homeless on Ennis's Chapel Lane, where they were provided with soup and sandwiches.

Ms O'Brien told gardai she used other money "to pay off bits and pieces. I never spent it on myself".

Mr O'Halloran had given Ms O'Brien his ATM card for his Permanent TSB account that received lodgments from his English pension, and in the garda interview, Ms O'Brien said: "I know I shouldn't have taken the money out, but I did."

Ms O'Brien admitted that she did not see Mr O'Halloran at any time at the hospital during the three and a half years during which she withdrew his pension each month.

When it was put to Mrs O'Brien by gardai that Mr O'Halloran never intended for her to spend the money and use the account as her own, Ms O'Brien responded: "Maybe he did or he didn't.

"One would have had to have been there to hear the conversation we had."

Later when it was put to Mrs O'Brien that she knew well that Mr O'Halloran did not mean for her to spend all of his money, she replied: "Yes, sure what else can I say."

At the end of the garda interview, Ms O'Brien said: "There is no point telling fibs. I took the money. That's it. It wasn't done designedly."

The two had met in hospital where they became friendly and moved into shared accommodation before Mr O'Halloran moved into St Joseph's Hospital in Ennis seven years ago.

Closing speeches are expected in the case today.

Irish Independent

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