Tuesday 20 February 2018

Garda who stole from OAP (82) jailed for three years

Conor Gallagher and Ben Haugh

A FORMER garda who stole thousands of euros from colleagues and an elderly woman has been sentenced to three years.

David Foran (30) responded to a burglary at an elderly woman’s home and found she had hidden nearly €2,000 in her bedroom. He later returned to steal the cash.

He also collected about €3,000 from his garda colleagues to organise events which he then used to pay his own debts.

“A meaner crime is difficult to find,” Judge Mary Ellen Ring commented as she sentenced Foran.

She said Foran’s breach of trust was more important than the money he stole. She noted the garda motto is to protect and serve, but he had done neither for the then 82-year-old woman.

“He violated her safety to take money she had worked for forty years to be entitled to,” Judge Ring said. “This violation took place while he was wearing the garda uniform.”

“This undermines the trust elderly people have in gardai. I can only hope that trust can be regained.”

Judge Ring said Foran exploited his relationship with his colleagues to take their money so he could alleviate his own problems. She noted he was deeply in debt and that his take home pay was as low as €25 a week after debt repayments.

However she pointed out that there is help available for those in debt within the gardai and in wider society and that Foran did not avail of this help.

She accepted that Foran pleaded guilty, avoiding the need for the elderly woman to give evidence. She also noted his previous good record and his psychiatric problems before suspending the final six months of the sentence.

Foran gasped and held his head in his hands as sentence was handed down.

Foran of Kinsale in Cork and formerly stationed at Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the theft of €1,950 from woman in Phibsboro between October 10 and 17, 2009.

He also pleaded to two counts of stealing money collected from his colleagues and one count of using a false instrument at Jury’s Hotel, Limerick, all between October and November 2009.

Detective Inspector Francis Sweeney told prosecuting counsel Michael Bowman BL that Foran became a garda in 2007 and was stationed at Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station when he responded to a burglary at the home of the elderly woman.

Burglars had broken into the sheltered housing where she lived but left without taking anything.

When Gda Foran arrived with a colleague the woman showed them the pillow cases where she kept her money. She received a pension from An Post where she worked all her life and kept the money at home as she didn’t trust banks.

The woman left for Cork the next day for a week during which time Foran returned. He gained access to the property by telling the management he was continuing his investigation and while there he took the money.

When she discovered the money was missing, the woman phoned gardai who began an investigation.

The investigating garda then passed the case to Gda Foran who said he would take care of it. However he never contacted the woman again.

Suspicions about Foran were raised after the woman wrote a letter of complaint about the lack of a follow-up.

After hearing the evidence, Judge Ring asked Inspector Sweeney about the well-being of the woman.

Inspector Sweeney said the woman’s health had deteriorated and she believes this is a result of the ordeal. She is now living in a nursing home.

The court also heard how Foran organised a number of collections for social events for his garda colleagues including a Christmas party in Jury’s Hotel in Limerick.

He collected cash for the event but used this to pay his debts instead. When he had to make part-payment for the hotel after the event he used a credit card number belonging to a colleague along with a forged letter of authorisation on garda headed note paper.

Other incidents of theft from colleagues included a collection for a garda who was leaving, a collection for a trip to Liverpool for a football match and money collected for a Christmas party.

An investigation was begun after the Jury’s incident when his colleague noticed the money missing on his credit card. Foran was arrested as he started his shift on December 3, 2009.

As he sat in the back of the garda car he confessed to stealing from the elderly woman and blamed his out of control debts for his actions. He was suspended from the force and eventually dismissed.

Defence counsel, Ronan Munro BL said: “He has lost his chosen career, his marriage has fallen apart and he has ruined the good name of himself and his family.”

Mr Munro said Foran made full admissions in interview and wrote a letter of apologies to his victims.

In letter sent to his former colleagues, Foran said he had “never been good with money," adding: “I promise I will pay everyone back.”

He said everyone was “screaming at me for money,” and explained that he had become depressed after falling into serious debt.

“I will forever regret disgracing my unit and I’m forever sorry,” he said.

He told gardai he owed nearly half a million including a €370,000 mortgage and various debts to credit unions and tradesman. Mr Munro told the court that Foran had tried to kill himself using a guitar string, but described it as a “cry for help” rather than a genuine attempt.

On some occasions only €25 remained in Foran’s take-home pay after weekly debt repayments were deducted.

Counsel said his marriage broke down in June 2010 because of the financial strain and the home has been repossessed. He has since received treatment for depression and has been diagnosed with a personality disorder.

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