Friday 24 November 2017

Father of 3 autistic children stabbed himself when questioned about theft

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A MAN with three disabled children who ran up personal debts of €70,000 tried to steal €170,000 from the Health Service Executive (HSE) to cover his financial commitments.

David Cooper (53), sobbed as Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that he made "pathetic" attempts to carry out his crimes and was always going to get caught.

When confronted by gardai at the hospital where he worked after concerns were raised during a routine audit, Cooper became involved in a stand-off with officers.

Gardai, who were attempting to seize computers and files from Cooper's office at St Mary's Hospital, were forced to intervene when he stabbed himself.

Cooper, formerly of Southern Road, Cork, was an HSE administrator for 12 years dealing with maintenance matters.

He was charged with six counts of theft involving a total of €55,450 from the HSE between June 6 and June 27, 2012; four counts of attempting theft between June 29 and July 6, 2012 involving €107,314; and two counts of theft from Pat Hennerty Ltd and Forest Print Ltd involving €5,811 and €1,804 respectively in the same period.

Cooper devised a scheme whereby false invoices would be submitted from fictitious companies for work that never took place and the payments subsequently lodged to his accounts.

Judge Sean O Donnabhain heard that Cooper has three children aged under 11 years. All three are autistic and have various physical disabilities.


By early 2012, Cooper had run up personal debts of almost €70,000 via three credit union loans, credit cards and bank loans.

He made an immediate admission to gardai when confronted about the invoices.

Defence counsel Sinead Behan said Cooper had an HSE pension worth €30,000 which he was willing to sign over to the HSE for compensation.

The judge said he would impose a two-year suspended sentence next January if proof was lodged in court that Cooper had signed his pension over.

Irish Independent

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