A 79-year-old housebound man who is confined to a wheelchair had his Visa card used without his knowledge by a neighbour who was ostensibly acting in a caring capacity.

That was how Det Garda Noel Maxwell described the background to the seven theft charges committed by Gerard Higgins, aged 50, of Henry St, Cork.

The total amount of money stolen by Higgins from John Buckley was €2,600.

The detective said Higgins was acting in the role of unofficial part-time carer to the elderly man.

“He had access to his home and knew where he kept his Visa card and also knew Mr Buckley’s PIN number for the card,” said Det Garda Maxwell.

On each theft, he took the card from a drawer and went to the ATM of the AIB at North Main St or to the ATM across the road at PTSB and made withdrawals from Mr Buckley’s account without his knowledge.

Judge Aingil Ní Chondúin said she saw the elderly injured party in a wheelchair in court. The case had been listed for hearing before Higgins decided to plead guilty to all seven charges.

“It is a nasty little crime. It is not easy for him to come to court at 79 years of age. I want to hear about a schedule of repayments. I won’t fool around. You get one chance from me, that is it,” the judge said.

After a brief adjournment, Diarmuid Kelleher, defence solicitor, said the accused hoped to get a loan of the full amount from a relative but in the absence of this he would make repayments from his own income at €500 per month.

The judge adjourned the matter until March 25 for a progress report on the payment of compensation.

“It is an opportunity to put things right. If I put him into jail nothing is going to happen,” Judge Ní Chondúin said.

The seven thefts were committed between February and May last year. After every withdrawal, the card was put back in the injured party’s drawer. 

Mr Kelleher said the defendant’s financial circumstances were absolutely dire at the time and he was desperate to get some money for his family.


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