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Stole €1,450 from vulnerable nursing home residents

A Letterkenny care worker who admitted stealing €1,450 from vulnerable occupants of a residential home in Kilmacrenan has had her case adjourned for a Probation Report.

At Dungloe District Court Kathleen Frize of Trentagh in Letterkenny admitted making a gain by false accounting to the total amount of €1,450 from the home two years ago.

The 59-year-old admitted 19 charges that at Abbey Village, Kilmacrenan, she withdrew various sums for a resident and failed to record the amount or full amount in the HSE financial record and made a gain or caused loss by false accounting.

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The 19 offences happened during a period from April 20 to November 30 2017.

Patsy Gallagher, defence solicitor for the defendant, said his client had no real explanation for her actions.

She did not have any need of money but had an underlying condition and her actions were a “cry for help”.

Detective Garda John Gallagher told the court that he was contacted by Sheila Duffy, a HSE co-ordinator for residents with intellectual disabilities at the Abbey Village to say there were “issues” on March 23 2018.

On March 1 2019, Ms Duffy made a statement of complaint after holding an internal audit. The complaint was made on behalf of the residents of the village.

The court heard the Village had an internal banking system where HSE care workers would help the residents in making withdrawals from an ATM.

Ms Duffy told the detective that from December 2016 to November 2017, there were anomalies as €1,450 was taken in 19 transactions over ten different days and documentary proof was given as evidence.

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The defendant admitted responsibility when questioned.

She was not able to give an explanation but told the detective that it had “destroyed her mentally”.

The defendant said she had worked for the HSE for many years and has treated the residents as “her second family”.

She was attending a counsellor and was at a “low ebb” but she was relieved the matter had come to a head as it meant she could start to seek answers for her actions.

A victim impact statement was read out in court on behalf of the residents which referred to a big issue in relation to a serious breakdown in trust and the remaining staff were also affected and it would take a long time to repair this breach.

The court heard the defendant had on-going health issues.

Defence solicitor Patsy Gallagher said his client had the full support of her family who were in court.

The solicitor asked the court to take into account the fact his client had no previous convictions.

Referring to the residential home, the solicitor said, “A lot of these people were her friends and that bond has been broken.”

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