Friday 18 October 2019

Carer jailed over the theft of €40,000 from 90-year-old widow

Betrayed trust: Nermana Gojak
Betrayed trust: Nermana Gojak

Sonya McLean

A woman who stole the proceeds of the sale of a retired GP's surgery when she was working as the victim's carer has been jailed for two years.

Nermana Gojak (44) worked as both a carer and a housekeeper for the 90-year-old woman for 10 years.

Both the woman and her late husband had worked as GPs in the area and the victim had opened up a deposit account with the funds from the sale of her husband's GP surgery when he died.

Gojak stole €41,380 over five years by making ATM withdrawals, using the woman's laser card to purchase items and getting cash back at points of sale.

She regularly transferred funds from this deposit account to the woman's current account to allow her access to the money.

Gojak, of Pineview Avenue, Aylesbury, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the theft on dates between September 8, 2012, and August 8, 2017.

She has no previous convictions and is unemployed.

Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, read the woman's victim impact statement into the record at the original sentence hearing last December, in which she stated: "I cried when I thought of how hard my husband had to work to get that money".

She said that she has not been to able to secure a new carer since Gojak's theft came to light and she has had to move into a nursing home.

The woman said she became fearful and worried about living in her home on her own and felt financially vulnerable.

"It was such an upheaval at this stage of my life. It will stay with me to the end of my days," the woman said.

Judge Melanie Greally had previously remanded Gojak on continuing bail and adjourned sentencing having heard evidence last December.

Yesterday she noted from the victim impact report that the "most significant element" for the woman was "the immense sense of betrayal which she has experienced".

"It is clear from the report that she regarded the accused as one of her family and embraced her as one of her family, introducing her to her wider family and celebrating family events with her," Judge Greally said.

She said the victim had raised those funds from "a lifetime of hard work" and the sale of a GP practice and noted that "she was left in financial insecurity as a result of what was taken from her".

Judge Greally said the case "necessitated a custodial sentence" before she sentenced Gojak to three years in prison but suspended the final 12 months on strict conditions, including that she engage with the Probation Service for 12 months.

She said she had taken into account Gojak's lack of previous convictions, her pleas of guilty, co-operation, remorse and the fact that she had €2,000 in court to offer as a token of that remorse.

Judge Greally also acknowledged that Gojak had experienced difficulties in her past, noting that she had come to Ireland from war-torn Bosnia and accepted that some mental health issues were identified in a probation report.

Irish Independent

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