A former garda who stole thousands of euro from colleagues and an elderly woman has been sentenced to three years in jail.
David Foran, aged 30, responded to a burglary at an elderly woman’s home and found she had hidden nearly €2,000 in her bedroom. He later returned to steal the cash. He also collected about €3,000 from his Garda colleagues to organise events which he then used to pay his own debts.
“A meaner crime is difficult to find,” said Judge Mary Ellen Ring as she sentenced Foran.
She said Foran’s breach of trust was more important than the money he stole. She noted the Garda motto was to protect and serve, but he had done neither for the then 82-year-old woman.
“He violated her safety to take money she had worked for 40 years to be entitled to,” said Judge Ring.
“This violation took place while he was wearing the Garda uniform.
“This undermines the trust elderly people have in gardaí. I can only hope that trust can be regained.”
Judge Ring said Foran exploited his relationship with his colleagues to take their money so he could alleviate his own problems. She noted he was deeply in debt and that his take-home pay was as low as €25 a week after debt repayments.
However, she pointed out that there was help available for those in debt within the gardaí and in wider society and that Foran did not avail of this help.
She accepted that Foran pleaded guilty, avoiding the need for the elderly woman to give evidence. She also noted his previous good record and his psychiatric problems before suspending the final six months of the sentence.
Foran, of Kinsale, Co Cork, formerly stationed at Fitzgibbon St Garda Station, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the theft of €1,950 from the woman in Phibsboro between Oct 10 and 17, 2009.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing money collected from his colleagues and one count of using a false instrument at Jury’s Hotel, Limerick, all between Oct and Nov, 2009.
Detective Inspector Francis Sweeney told Michael Bowman, prosecuting, that Foran was responding to a burglary at the home of the elderly woman. The burglars left without taking anything.
When Garda Foran arrived with a colleague the woman showed them the pillow cases where she kept her money.
The woman left for Cork the next day for a week, during which time Foran returned. He gained access by telling management he was continuing his investigation.
When she discovered the money was missing, the woman phoned gardaí, who began an investigation.
The investigating garda passed the case to Garda Foran who said he would take care of it. However, he never contacted the woman again. Suspicions were raised after the woman wrote a letter of complaint about the lack of a follow-up.
Insp Sweeney said the woman’s health had deteriorated and that she believes this is a result of the ordeal. She is now living in a nursing home.
The court also heard how Foran organised collections for social events for his colleagues, including a Christmas party in Jury’s Hotel in Limerick.
He collected cash for the event but used this to pay his debts instead. When he had to make part-payment for the hotel after the event he used a credit card number of a colleague.
Ronan Munro, defending, said: “He has lost his chosen career, his marriage has fallen apart, and he has ruined the good name of himself and his family.”
The court heard that Foran’s family have helped him with his debts and all money has been repaid.