By Liam Heylin
A paid carer companion pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of stealing €600 from a woman with a mild intellectual disability.
Judge Olann Kelleher said he could not leave the 62-year-old defendant without a conviction even though she had none before yesterday.
“She was in a position of trust. She abused that,” the judge said. “It is a very sad and terrible crime. It is such a serious matter I have to convict her. I will imposed a fine of €400.”
Josephine Minihan, of 10 Castle Park, Mahon, Cork, admitted that at the SuperValu shopping centre, Main St, Carrigaline, on January 20, 2017, she stole €600.
Inspector Ronan Kennelly outlined the background to the crime. He said that, while Minihan was working as a part-time carer companion with the woman with the intellectual disability, she had the woman’s bank card.
With this, she withdrew €600. A sister of the injured party noticed something amiss with the transaction and gardaí were notified. The defendant was questioned about the matter and admitted keeping €300 to €400 of the €600.
Frank Buttimer, solicitor, said the offence was admitted by the defendant. However, he said that €200 to €300 was given by the defendant to the injured party on the day. Irrespective of that, she brought €600 to court yesterday as full reimbursement.
Mr Buttimer said that, while the admission was made, there was an explanation for how it occurred.
“The victim has psychological challenges,” he said. “It was identified by her family that she might benefit from some level of care. Ms Minihan was assigned to attend with her for two to three days a week, bringing her to the shops and such matters.
“Some concern was raised about a financial irregularity. The only matter raised is in relation to the €600.
“The way it happened was that my client was given the cash machine card. She went to cash to the pay-out point. With it present, she withdrew €600 because complainant wanted that to be done.
“While doing it, my client had slight concerns about someone who was talking to the lady and was afraid [if she handed over the money there and then], it might be accessed by the other person so she kept it.
“She is culpable in that respect. She paid back €200 to €300 but not the full €600.
“She expressed shame, remorse, sorrow, etc for it. She has never been in court, she has never been prosecuted. She is obviously gone from the job.”
Judge Kelleher told the court that, despite the absence of previous convictions and the guilty plea, he could not give the defendant the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act as he deemed the theft too serious in all the circumstances.
Judge Kelleher then fined Minihan €400.