A former garda has been jailed for theft after he pleaded guilty to obtaining over €50,000 by telling people his wife had cancer and needed treatment in the US.
Noel Fitzhenry, aged 46, a former Co Wexford footballer and member of a well-known GAA family, appeared before Judge Barry Hickson at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, having pleaded guilty to the charges on July 8.
Fitzhenry was sentenced to two years in prison on three of the seven counts, with the second year on each suspended.
Superintendent William Carolan said in November 2012, senior garda management in Wexford began to investigate allegations made against Fitzhenry.
Gardaí were made aware Fitzhenry, of Springmount, Rathnure, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, had approached people in the Glynn area seeking loans on the basis his wife had cancer and required treatment in the US.
Supt Carolan said there was no suggestion that the defendant’s wife was involved or knew what was going on.
On July 1, 2009, the defendant approached publican Declan Roche asking him for a loan of €8,000, and promising to pay it back when his insurance policy paid out later in the year.
The second and third count involved Joseph Moran, a retired bachelor farmer. Fitzhenry had told Mr Moran he had €180,000 for treatment for his wife and needed another €20,000. On September 25, 2012, the 94-year-old gave the defendant €19,400.
Ciarán Corish, a publican in Galbally, was relieved of €300 on July 31, 2011 when he was asked to cash a cheque for the defendant who later contacted him asking him not to lodge the cheque and saying he would pay him the amount on it.
On May 30, 2012, Jim Meyler, a farmer from Killurin, paid €1,000 to Fitzhenry after he told him he needed money for his wife’s treatment in the US.
Finally, counts six and seven involved David Dempsey, a company director who on May 30, 2012, gave Fitzhenry a sum of €10,000 on hearing the same story from the defendant. On June 1, 2012, he handed over another €10,000 to assist in travel expenses.
Much of the money deposited into Fitzhenry’s account was withdrawn shortly afterwards. None of the money was recovered. Supt Carolan said it was a sad day for the defendant, his family, and for the gardaí.
Fitzhenry had over 20 years of experience in An Garda Síochána. He was suspended from duty on November 23, 2012, and on July 5, 2014, he resigned.
The 46-year-old had four children, and is the brother of All-Star hurler Damien Fitzhenry.
In mitigation, John Walsh, defending, said that his client had been under severe financial pressure at the time of the incidents and could not honestly explain why he did what he did. He said his actions were born out of depression and feeling that he couldn’t manage the pressure.
The future, he added, did not look good for Fitzhenry who had now surrendered both houses and was renting in the locality of Glynn.
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