Tuesday 24 September 2019

Former care worker said elderly client 'gifted her €8,000 for car' - court hears

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Sonya McLean

A former care worker accused of stealing from an elderly client has said that the woman gifted her cash to buy a vehicle and lent her money towards a deposit on a house.

Sabrina O'Connor (37) told Oisin Clarke BL, defending, that there were also times when the woman, a stroke victim, told her she needed money and Ms O'Connor would withdraw cash from her own account for her. The woman would then write her a cheque for the money and the accused would lodge it in her own account.

She agreed with her counsel that she knew it was against her work policy and procedures to accept money from a client.

Ms O'Connor of The Green, Dunboyne Castle, Dunboyne, Co Meath has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 13 charges of theft and one count of deception in Dublin 13 on dates between 2010 and 2011.

The State allege that Ms O'Connor stole from the woman's bank account while she worked as a carer over a period of two years.

Ms O'Connor outlined the procedure in place for withdrawing cash from the woman's account when she was requested to do so.

“If she wanted money she was to write out a cheque and that would be presented to the Bank of Ireland in Sutton. I would bring it to customer services, they would call her and confirm the amount with her and it would be signed off by a manager,” Ms O'Connor said.

Ms O'Connor said she then presented the cheque along with two forms of her identification and she would be handed the cash in an envelope.

She said she would sometimes get a call in work from the woman saying she needed money now.

She said on occasion she would not be in a position to withdraw money from the woman's account, so she would take the money from her own account and give it to her.

Ms O'Connor agreed this was “very unusual”. She told Mr Clarke that she was under pressure and she did it to keep the woman happy.

She told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that she didn't tell her employers that she had done this, against employment policy, because she was afraid of losing her job.

Ms O'Connor said the woman would give her a cheque in return, which she would lodge into her own account.

She said she was gifted €8,000 by the woman when she learned that Ms O'Connor no longer had transport available to her.

“She said she wanted to help me out with transport,” Ms O'Connor said before she told the jury the woman insisted and had suggested she would give her €10,000 for a car.

“She told me to get something and pick it out and she would pay for it.

“It was wrong for me to accept it. I was under pressure. I didn't make the right decision,” Ms O'Connor said.

The trial before Judge Karen O'Connor and a jury of seven women and five men has reached its closing stages.

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