Thursday 14 December 2017

Woman found not guilty of theft of over €102,000 from retired chef's bank account

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

By Declan Brennan

A woman has been found not guilty of the theft of over €102,000 from a retired chef's bank account after a judge said the evidence was confused and inconclusive.

Sandra Doyle (37) denied stealing the money from the AIB bank account of Fergus Brugha (62) over the course of three years.

Ms Doyle of McCabe’s Villas, Booterstown, Dublin and formerly of Meadowgate, Knockmullen,  Gorey, Co Wexford had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 131 charges of theft at AIB Bank, Morehampton Road, Donnybrook between September 2008 and May 2010.

The disputed transactions included payments to Ticketmaster, online motor tax, a veterinary clinic, a beauty clinic, a Dundrum credit union account and mobile phone top ups.

Judge Patrick McCartan directed the jury to find Ms Doyle not guilty after telling it there was not enough evidence to sustain the charges. He described the evidence of the alleged victim as “entirely confused and inconclusive”.

Mr Brugha went to gardai in 2010 after he became concerned about transactions on his bank statement. In January 2011 investigating gardai arrested Ms Doyle, who had lived with Mr Brugha for a short time in a house in Gorey.

She told gardai that she didn't make any of the payments or transactions without permission and denied stealing Mr Brugha's bank card details and using it to pay bills.

The accused said that Mr Brugha, who had inherited a sum of around €200,000 after the death of his mother in 2006, never had any money. She herself had won €125,000 in a settlement over a  workplace accident.

Mr Brugha denied a suggestion from Patrick Reynolds BL, defending, that he and Ms Doyle had “spent the whole lot” together.

The court heard that one of the many transactions Mr Brugha initially told gardai was unauthorised was a payment of €196 to Sky Digital in January 2010. In a later statement to gardai Mr Brugha said that this payment was in fact a legitimate transaction.

Under cross examination Mr Brugha conceded to Patrick Reynolds BL, defending, that he may have also given permission to Ms Doyle to make a payment of €250 to Campus Oil. He went on to concede that he may have given permission for other transactions.

Judge McCartan said that Mr Brugha had left open the possibility that he might have agreed to a number of other transactions and that the jury were left in the positon of having to decide which ones he had agreed to.

The judge commented that the complainant had very poor recall about his own financial affairs and had a very poor fix in time and detail.

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