A public health nurse is on trial charged with theft of more than €11,000 from a patient in her 80s via 59 bank card transactions at shops and ATM machines.
Deirdre Kenneally, 47, of Leitrim, Kilworth, County Cork, pleaded not guilty to all 59 theft charges and three other related charges and she went on trial before Judge Gerard O’Brien and five women and seven men of the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Prosecution barrister, Donal McCarthy, said the evidence he anticipated the prosecution would present in the week-long trial would be that Ms Kenneally allegedly used the bank card belonging to a patient in her 80s to get money from ATM machines for her own benefit.
He said 59 of the charges related to alleged theft and three of them related to phoning online banking to transfer money belonging to the injured party from one account to another.
Mr McCarthy stressed that both accounts belonged to the elderly woman and that the three transactions were done to facilitate bank card transactions at ATM machines.
Betty Darcy said her widowed sister, Alice Twomey, lived in a remote country farm in Castlelyons and became fragile mentally so she (Ms Darcy) rang her three times a day.
“Nurses called to see her. Everyone tried to help her. She was a difficult person to relate to. She did not trust anyone in this world including myself. Only one person succeeded in getting her confidence – Nurse Clancy."
Clancy, the court head, was the maiden name of the accused, Deirdre Kenneally.
“I was not aware my sister had a debit card. She possibly did not know it herself. She had Alzheimer’s and she was in her mid-80s. She always used money. She always used cash.
“As far as finances are concerned if I borrowed a euro she got it back. She was always very honest. She would not owe you anything. She would not take anything belonging to you but also it worked the other way. She knew what she wanted. She did not get what she wanted - that is why the court case is here today.”
Ms Darcy who is 80 and a former bank official said she was the one who discovered what allegedly happened and not a bank inspector or anyone else.
“I was horrified and devastated. My sister was very straight, very honest. She would not do a dirty trick on anyone. She would expect me to look out for her. I have nothing to gain, only hassle, it has been a living nightmare for the past two and a half years.”
Defence barrister, Tom Power, suggested to the witness that Alice Twomey had a good relationship with nurse Clancy.
Ms Darcy replied:
Mr Power BL asked if she knew that her sister had entered an arrangement to pay the defendant every week for services to her.
Ms Darcy replied in relation to the defendant, “She was paid by the HSE. She (her sister) was a highly intelligent woman before she got Alzheimer’s. She knew quite well she (the nurse) was paid by the HSE. She would not do it if she was in her right mind or even if she was in her wrong mind.
“I always like to be right I would be delighted if anyone could prove me wrong because she was an excellent nurse.”
It took an hour for the arraignment of the accused where she replied not guilty to 62 charges and for the charges to be read over to the jury by the registrar at the outset.
Fifty-nine charges are contrary to Section 4.1 of the Criminal Justice (Theft) Act, which refers to the dishonest appropriation of various sums of money, the property of Alice Twomey, without her consent, with the intention of depriving Alice Twomey of it. Sums range from €11 to €396 from August 2015 to July 2016 at various locations in Fermoy, Kilworth, Mitchelstown, Cork city and Swords, County Dublin.
Three charges are contrary to Section 9 of the same Act between February and June 2016 where it is alleged she operated a computer with the intention of causing a loss to Alice Twomey.
The total amount of money referred to in charges is more than €11,000.