Friday 23 February 2018

Two years' jail for director who stole €116k from Hep C charity

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Conor Gallagher

A court has ruled the HSE is to receive €63,500 in compensation from the former director of a Hepatitis C support group who stole over €116,000 from the organisation.

Bernadette Warnock (63) was jailed for two years after Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the imposition of the sentence last month to allow the woman to attend a medical appointment.

Warnock stole the money while operating the finances of Positive Action Ltd, which was set up in 1994 to help women who contracted Hepatitis C through contaminated blood product in maternity hospitals.

Warnock, of Garrettstown, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 71 counts of theft and fraud between 2009 and 2011, totalling €116,226.

Positive Action had 730 members and received the majority of its funding from the HSE. It was closed down in 2014 following a HSE audit.

Warnock, who herself suffers from Hepatitis C after contracting it at the age of 24, has four previous convictions for forging cheques from her employer in 1990. The judge had adjourned the case last month after hearing Warnock's health had deteriorated in recent months, leaving her housebound, and a stay was put on her sentence to allow her attend a hospital appointment.

Judge Greally said she wished that Hepatitis C sufferers would benefit directly from the compensation raised. She noted that there were three support groups which the HSE allocated funding to but said she had concerns about the money going to these organisations directly as none of them were registered charities.

Judge Greally imposed a three-year sentence and suspended the final 12 months.

Her barrister Ronan Kennedy handed in testimonials from family and friends on Warnock's behalf.

He said he had been instructed to offer an apology.

Irish Independent

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