Monday 26 August 2019

Post office worker who stole by skimming elderly people's pensions avoids jail

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Conor Gallagher

A post office worker who stole from ten elderly people by skimming their old age pensions has avoided a prison sentence.

Imelda Hanlon (36) stole a total of €18,752 over four years before she was caught. She used the money to pay her mortgage and gave some of it to her partner's children in an effort to forge a closer relationship with them.

Hanlon, of Oak Court Grove, Palmerstown, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to ten sample counts of theft, from an 81 count indictment, at Chapelizod Post Office between 2010 and 2014.

Detective Garda Shane Kelly told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that Hanlon worked part time in the post office which was owned by her mother.

She targeted old age pension payments because the post office system allows pensioners to let them build up before collecting them. When customers came in to collect a few weeks worth of payments, Hanlon would pay out most of the money but keep some back for herself.

The customers did not notice the missing money as Hanlon only took small amounts from each person and spread the thefts over four years.

In 2014, An Post launched an investigation into unusual transactions at the branch and Hanlon admitted the thefts. An Post reimbursed the victims and Hanlon has since repaid An Post.

Defence counsel, Katherine McGillicuddy BL, said the thefts started out as opportunistic and then became a habit for Hanlon. She said Hanlon was relieved when she was finally caught.

Ms McGillicuddy said her client had poor decision-making skills. Hanlon used some of the money to pay maintenance for her partner's children and to take them out to dinner. Counsel said she did not live a lavish lifestyle.

Counsel added she was let go from the post office and hadn't returned since.

Judge Martin Nolan said it was a serious crime which targeted a vulnerable section of the community.

“Let’s hope they don’t lose their trust in their fellow human beings. Most people are trustworthy, especially in An Post,” the judge said.

He imposed a two-year sentence on Hanlon, which he suspended on strict conditions.

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