Tuesday 17 September 2019

Woman (90) forced into nursing home after carer stole cash from sale of late husband's surgery, court told

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Stock photo

A retired GP had to move to a nursing home after her carer stole the proceeds of the sale of her late husband's doctor surgery, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

Nermana Gojak (44) worked as both a carer and a housekeeper for a couple of days a week for the 90-year-old woman for 10 years.

She stole €41,380 over five years by making ATM withdraws, using the woman's laser card to purchase items and getting cash back at points of sale.

The victim had opened up a deposit account with the funds from the sale of her husband's GP surgery when he passed away. Gojak regularly transferred funds from this deposit account to the woman's current account to allow her easy access to the money.

Gojak of Pineview Avenue, Aylesbury, Tallaght pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the theft from Ulster Bank, Dundrum on dates between September 8, 2012 and August 8, 2017. Gojak has no previous convictions and is unemployed.

Judge Melanie Greally remanded Gojak on continuing bail and adjourned sentencing to March 19, next.

She said Gojak had taken advantage of a woman “who was entirely dependent on her and who trusted her entirely”. She asked her “to find some way of making some modest inroad” into repaying the large sum of money that was stolen.

Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, read the woman's victim impact statement into the record in which she stated “I cried when I thought of how hard my husband had to work to get that money”.

She said the crime was deceitful, cruel and callous.

She said that she has not been to able to secure a new carer since Gojak's theft came to light and she has had to move into a nursing home.

The woman said she became fearful and worried about living in her home on her own and felt financially vulnerable.

“I embraced her like a daughter,” she said while outlining that she went to Gojak's children's plays, dancing competitions and “celebrated all their achievements”. She said she didn't forget the children's birthdays.

“It was such an upheaval at this stage of my life. It will stay with me to the end of my days,” the woman concluded her statement.

Gojak's defence counsel Marc Murphy BL, accepted it was an extremely serious offence that had a serious impact on the victim. He acknowledged that the money has not been repaid and said there was no reality to her ever paying it back in full.

Counsel suggested that if Gojak was given some time she may be able to gather together “a token amount as a symbol of her remorse”.

Mr Murphy said Gojak played “a central role in her family life” and is a devoted mother to her three children aged between 12 and 17 years old. “She has an expectation of a custodial sentence”, counsel said.

Garda Karl O'Neill told Mr Hayes that the victim's friend, a retired accountant, had been regularly assisting her with her financial matters.

She was in the house on one occasion when she overheard Gojak on the phone requesting a transfer from the woman's deposit account to her current account.

The woman became concerned and asked her friend if she could look into her bank statements.

She immediately noticed that many thousands of euro had been transferred from the woman's deposit account to her current account and that there had been numerous subsequent withdrawals from the current account.

Gda O'Neill confirmed that Gojak had been working with the woman for two hours a day, three days a week, since 2008. She would often go to the shop for her or accompany the pensioner to the hairdresser, where she would see her input her pin for her bank cards.

The theft was reported to the gardaí and Gojak was arrested in January 2018 when she made full admissions in a subsequent interview.

Gda O'Neill agreed with Mr Murphy that his client had given an apology and shown remorse during garda interview.

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