A 23-YEAR-OLD woman who stole more than €8,000 from patients in a day care centre where she was employed was given an 18 month suspended prison sentence.
Nicola Stokes, of Ballysimon, Monageer, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, pleaded guilty to three charges when she appeared before Judge Thomas Teehan at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court.
She pleaded guilty to on date unknown between June 30, 2010 and August 1, 2010, she stole cash to the value of €1,400, property of Ms Tanya Woods. She also pleaded guilty to stealing cash to the amount of €3,200, property of Ms Annie Doyle between September 8, 2010, and October 5, 2010, and stealing cash to amount of €4,000, property of Pauline O'leary, between August 6, 2010, and October 5, 2010.
Sgt Ray Heffernan told the court that the three injured parties were residents in St Aidan's Day Care Centre in Gorey. All three injured parties had disabilities and were in full-time care of the nursing staff.
Sgt Heffernan said discrepancies were detected as a result of an audit in the Bank of Ireland when suspicious transactions showed up in one of the injured party's accounts. Contact was made with the supervisor in the day care centre and all withdrawals and transactions were closely monitored.
Gardai were called in and their investigations included monitoring CCTV footage, where it was discovered the defendant was taking ATM cards from the injured parties, withdrawing monies, while she kept some monies for herself.
He also said that all of the money had been returned with the injured parties compensated in full. The defendant had no previous convictions, he said.
Defence counsel, Ms Sinead Gleeson, B.L., said the monies compose of small amounts taken over a number of months. After her arrest she took full responsibility.
Ms Gleeson also said that the defendant had written letters of apologies to the injured parties which had been accepted.
The defendant, said Ms Gleeson, had exercised poor judgement at the time, having taken out a loan so her boyfriend could buy a car. While the relationship had since broken down, her boyfriend still retained the car.
She is now on €188 a week job seekers allowance.
Judge Teehan, in handing down sentence, said the injured parties were particularly vulnerable. He said that fortunately, all injured parties had been compensated.
Judge Teehan handed down an 18 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, on condition that the defendant enter a bond to keep the peace for that period.