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Dublin woman stole €42k from elderly neighbour after becoming her carer

CourtsBy Sunday World
Laura Pennick
Laura Pennick

A woman became her elderly neighbour's carer before stealing almost €42,000 from her and spending it on home improvements, clothes and holidays, a court has heard.

Laura Pennick (29) with an address in Bride Street, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to the thefts totalling €41,935 from Marie McNally between January 2010 and December 2012.

Garda Colin Rourke told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today that Pennick, a single mother, befriended Ms McNally when she was living two doors away from her in Finglas.

She became Ms McNally's "unofficial carer" and started collecting her pension and paying her bills. She had access to Ms McNally's ATM cards and two bank accounts, including one which contained Ms McNally's inheritance from the sale of her late mother's house.

Gda Rourke said Pennick made a number of withdrawals ranging from "very small amounts up to €600". She spent the money on "home improvements, fashion purchases, home furnishings, home appliances and holidays", the court heard.

When questioned by gardai following Ms McNally's discovery of the loss, Pennick "said she had financial worries of her own and needed to do it", Gda Rourke said.

She has 29 previous convictions including five theft convictions, Gda Rourke said. One of the convictions was for the theft of €1,000 from her previous employer, JD Sports, he said.

The court heard Ms McNally was extremely upset when she discovered the loss and her financial position was now "perilous". She did not wish to give a victim impact statement.

Damien Colgan SC, defending, said Pennick owed money at the time to "individuals" who made "real threats" against her.

He said that Pennick regretted her actions and had told gardai that if there was any way she could repay the money, she would. She had €3,900 to give Ms McNally as a token of her remorse, he added.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the matter to allow for a probation services report.

"This is a serious offence involving a serious breach of trust and the accused has a history of dishonesty," Judge Greally said.

Pennick will be sentenced on November 7.