Care assistant jailed for stealing nearly €20k from elderly woman's bank account

A nursing home care assistant who stole almost €20,000 from the bank account of an elderly resident has been jailed.

Carol Cullen (aged 47) had been given two cheques by the 86-year-old woman, with whom she had become friendly, before forging further cheques and stealing a total of €19,900 from her account.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Cullen, a mother of four, was not living a lavish lifestyle and the money had been used on household expenditure.

Cullen of Edenmore Gardens, Coolock, Dublin pleaded guilty to four counts of theft from the woman and four counts of forgery of cheques on dates between August 2014 and 2015.

She has no previous convictions and has not come to further garda attention.

The court heard Cullen had co-operated with gardaí and made admissions after they began investigating the thefts. She expressed remorse during garda interview.

Judge Karen O'Connor said it had been a significant breach of trust in circumstances where the victim was a vulnerable elderly woman in residential care who had been kind to Cullen. She noted it had involved multiple offending and had been motivated by personal gain.

She noted Cullen's husband had a history of alcohol addiction and that Cullen was now living on social welfare as she had been unable to get further care work due to the need for garda vetting.

Judge O'Connor said she was taking into account factors including that Cullen had a young family and would suffer a loss reputation. She noted Cullen was not living a lavish lifestyle.

She said she had sympathy with Cullen, but noted many people in society had difficult financial circumstances in the last few years. She said she had no choice but to impose a custodial sentence.

Judge O'Connor imposed a two-year sentence and suspended the final 15 months on strict conditions, including that Cullen should engage with financial support services. She ordered Cullen to undergo 12 months probation supervision on release.

Keith Spencer BL, defending, said Cullen was not in a financial position to make redress and would have to borrow money which would put the family into debt.

Mr Spencer said Ms Cullen did not spend the money on anything lavish but instead used it to pay off bills and buy things for her four children.

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