Man duped family of terminally ill cervical cancer patient out of money

John Griffin preyed on Cork family just a month before woman died
Man duped family of terminally ill cervical cancer patient out of money

Julie Dingivan, pictured with her daughter Ali, was just 36 when she died in 2017. Her husband Paul Dingivan told a court that John Griffin had played on his emotions while his wife was dying of cancer.  Picture: Facebook

A man has been jailed for nine months after he pleaded guilty to dishonestly duping a man whose wife was dying of cervical cancer out of €1,120 for hemp oil that he claimed would cure the young mother of three.

Fermoy District Court in Co Cork has heard that 38-year-old John Griffin preyed on Paul Dingivan just a month before his wife 36-year-old wife Julie died in April 2017.

Julie Dingivan of Fermoy was one of the women impacted by the CervicalCheck controversy.

She was diagnosed in 2013. In 2018, the HSE indicated to her husband Paul that a clear smear test his wife received in 2009 was found to be inaccurate following a review in September 2016.

Griffin extolled 'healing power' of hemp oil

Meanwhile, the court heard that Griffin, of Connolly Avenue in Mallow, Co Cork, was in a pub in Fermoy on March 1, 2017.

He began telling people gathered in the pub about the healing power of hemp oil which he insisted had cured his own testicular cancer.

Paul Dingivan received a call from his brother and he went to the pub having been informed about the lavish claims being made by Griffin. Griffin told Dingivan he had an unlimited supply of hemp oil.

Griffin pleaded guilty that he dishonestly by deception induced Paul Dingivan to hand over €1,120 believing that he would supply hemp oil to him with the intention of making gain for himself at MacCurtain Street, Fermoy on March 1, 2017.

Ms Dingivan 'came off all medical treatment'

Inspector Tony Sullivan told the court that Julie Dingivan had come off all treatment for her cancer at the time of the offence. She had been told she only had a short amount of time to live.

Insp Sullivan said Mr Dingivan agreed to buy the hemp oil from Griffin because he "would have done anything to keep his wife alive". 

Griffin told Paul Dingivan to meet him in his car in MacCurtain Street and that he would be back with the oil after he had been given the €1,120.

Inspector Sullivan said that Mr Dingivan soon realised that Griffin was not coming back. Gardaí tracked the defendant down after viewing CCTV footage.

Mr Dingivan said in evidence that his wife had come off chemotherapy in 2017 after years of treatment failed to contain her cancer.

He stated that when his brother contacted him to say there was a man in his pub talking about cures for cancer he decided to check it out.

Mr Dingivan recalled that Griffin chatted to him about the situation Julie was facing: 

He [Griffin] asked to see photos of my wife and family. He said his friend was coming through with the oil and he was going to pick it up. He told me to sit in my car and he would be back, but he never showed up.  

The court heard that Griffin had nine previous convictions. Four of the convictions were for theft which appeared to involve some type of deception.

Griffin sentenced to nine months  

His solicitor, Matthew Bermingham, said his client wanted to apologise to Mr Dingivan. He added that Griffin was remorseful for his actions.

Judge Alec Gabbett sentenced Griffin to nine months in prison. He said the crime was an "awful" thing to do to the Dingivan family.

Speaking outside the court Paul Dingivan emphasised that he was "numbed and angry" by the actions of Griffin but pleased that he had received a custodial sentence.

“Thinking about it afterwards, it seemed like a complete set-up the way he just happened to walk into my brother’s bar and start to talk about cancer cures.

He played on my emotions and worst of all was he asked to show him pictures of my wife and our daughter. He said he was going to do everything he could to help us. 

Mr Dingivan spoke of 'emotional rollercoaster'

In an interview on Neil Prendeville's show on Cork's Red FM following the death of his wife, Paul Dingivan said that Julie endured chemotherapy and radiotherapy and the emotional rollercoaster of two all-clears.

Mr Dingivan said Julie spent three months in Marymount Hospice in Cork in a bid to manage the pain.

They put her on methadone and they were trying to adjust the doses to get that right because they could leave her go home. It was all about just managing the pain. 

He vividly recalls when staff at the hospice had to explain to him and his wife that she was not going to survive.

I asked if Julie was going to die and they gave her about a week to live. They [the staff] were outstanding. They were giving her injections for the pain. It was a strong dose. And they said she would more than likely fall back to sleep, and it would be unlikely that she would wake up after. 

Julie picked out a Communion dress she wanted their daughter Ali to wear when the time came for her big day.

Dingivan added that, when Julie died, she was in his arms and he told her to go and to "not keep fighting". 

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