A home care worker with the HSE has been convicted of stealing around €5,000 from a 73-year-old Portlaoise man.
Deirdre Walshe, aged 39, of 13 Rathevan View, Portlaoise, pleaded not guilty to the charges and a hearing took place recently at Portlaoise District Court.
Inspector Aidan Farrelly prosecuted on behalf of the State, with evidence given by Garda JP O’Brien, while defence for Walshe was barrister, Mr Colm Hennessy.
The court heard that Walshe was the care worker for the injured party, a 73-year-old man who is wheelchair-bound. She had previously been the care worker for his partner’s mother.
The man’s partner had had a child out of wedlock years before and the child was put up for adoption. The man confided in Walshe, who gave an undertaking to find the child in Cork. Walshe took €1,000 from him, saying it was for expenses and to arrange counselling for his partner.
Walshe instead used the money for a holiday for herself and her family in Cork.
On another occasion, Walshe requested a loan of €2,500 for a college course which she agreed to pay back. She subsequently spent €1,500 on a course in Tullamore and the rest on herself, and none of the money was paid back.
Following the death of the man’s partner, the man asked for memorial cards for his partner and carpets for the bedroom of the house. He gave €380 to Walshe and neither the cards nor carpets were purchased, nor was the money paid back.
On another date, the man was looking for a panic button and gave Walshe €150. The panic button was never purchased.
Walshe also asked for a loan of €150 for an item for herself and never paid the money back.
The injured party gave evidence at the district court, and evidence of his bank statements showing withdrawals was also produced.
The court heard that when he reported the offences to the gardaí, Walshe offered to pay him back €1,000 a month, but there was no attempt made to pay it.
Walshe contested the matter, meaning the 73-year-old man was fully cross-examined by defence. However, after lunch on the day of court Walshe changed her plea to guilty.
Judge Catherine Staines commended the injury party on coming forward, and put the matter back for a probation report. She told Walshe to have €5,000 compensation by February 15, and warned her that she may face a custodial sentence.
Judge Staines also told the gardaí to notify the HSE of the conviction.