Saturday 18 November 2017

Depressed post office clerk stole €5,700 social welfare payments

Imelda O'Hanlon (36) defrauded 22 people out of their payments over a three-year period, a court heard. Stock image
Imelda O'Hanlon (36) defrauded 22 people out of their payments over a three-year period, a court heard. Stock image

Andrew Phelan

A post office clerk stole nearly €6,000 of social welfare money from customers when they let payments "build up" and she told them they had less than they really did.

Imelda O'Hanlon (36) defrauded 22 people out of their payments over a three-year period, a court heard.

The mother-of-two suffered from anxiety and depression and lost her job as a result of the thefts.

Judge Anthony Halpin gave her a six-month suspended sentence.

O'Hanlon, of Oak Court Grove, Palmerstown, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of stealing cash by deception.

Dublin District Court heard the offences happened at North Strand Post Office on dates between April 2011 and February 2014.

The court heard there was a total of 29 transactions totalling €5,700, and the accused had paid the money back to An Post.

There were 22 victims in the case, and the victim was working as a teller in the branch.

Sign

The court heard the incidents happened when customers had let their social protection payments build up over a number of weeks without collecting them.

When asked how many payments there were, she would tell them they had one less than they had and the customer would sign for them.

O'Hanlon then kept the final payment.

She made a voluntary statement to gardai and had been "very sincere in her apologies", according to her solicitor, Eoin Lysaght.

The statement was made in 2015 and she was not charged until 2016.

She "put her hands up straight away" and had lost her job as a result of her actions.

The defendant had two young children and had been on anti-depressant medication for anxiety and depression since 2007.

O'Hanlon had not been able to get other employment since she lost her job. She realised she should not have done what she did and had made "bad errors".

O'Hanlon had no previous convictions, and Mr Lysaght asked the judge to leave her without a criminal record.

The judge suspended the six-month sentence for three years on the accused entering a €500 peace bond. O'Hanlon cried as her case was finalised.

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