Former care worker who stole €26k from vulnerable residents avoids jail sentence

CourtsBy Shuki Byrne
Court: Ann Buggy
Court: Ann Buggy

A former care worker who stole almost €26,000 from two vulnerable residents in her care has avoided a custodial sentence.

Ann Buggy (63) was caught after she took so much cash there was not enough money left in her victim’s accounts to pay rent. 

The 63-year-old mother stole €20,386.20 from one woman and €5,610 from another client, totalling almost €26,000, Portlaoise District Court heard. 

Judge Catherine Staines told the court Buggy, a former resident of Stradbally in Laois, abused a position of trust and took large sums of money on a "regular... and systematic" basis. 

Buggy took the money while employed as a care worker at the Muiriosa Foundation in Monasterevin, County Kildare, a residential home for the disabled.

“She was in charge of a community house where three service users lived and were cared for,” Sergeant Patrick O’Brien told the court.

“These people would need assistance withdrawing money from their accounts.

“The accused, who was in charge of looking after them, would take them to their bank, post office or credit union and help them with their transaction.”

But while drawing their money, Buggy helped herself to some of the cash.

Between March 2010 and October 2011 she took over €5,600 from one client’s disability pension “in small installments”. She robbed the other client of over €20,000 in a two-year period.

“Rent is paid for these houses which are privately owned and the rent would have been taken out of the accounts of the injured parties,” said Sergean O’Brien.

“But when there was insufficient funds in their accounts the Muiriosa Foundation started a forensic audit.

“The accused was confronted by her employer and made a full admission.”

Last week, defence counsel for Buggy told the court she had €22,000 and €7,000 for her respective victims. Each were to receive approximately €1,500 more than was stolen. 

Josephine Fitzpatrick said her client had fully appreciated the fact she abused her position of trust. 

Ms Fitzpatrick said Buggy had been working at the foundation trouble free since 1997.

“She had been given greater responsibility based on her performance.”

Once she was caught she had given “very full co-operation” to the gardai and had been interviewed for three hours by Sergeant O’Brien.

“She made a full and frank admission over each and every accusation,” said the solicitor.

In court last year, Ms Fitzpatrick said: “At the time of the offences, out of necessity the accused was not living in the family home. 

“She was maintaining a mortgage and paying rent in private accommodation. She also had a son attending |third level education and she was the only person available to provide that funding.

“Unfortunately, she became overwhelmed by her domestic situation and used the money to fund these things. It was not used for any holidays.”

Ms Fitzpatrick said Buggy had written letters of apology to the victims for her “shameful behaviour.”

Her family had rallied round to help and a daughter was now living in the family home and taking care of the mortgage.

Buggy had been sacked from her job and was living on a disability pension as she had medical problems. With the help of her family she would be able to pay back €100 a week and would get a pension at 65 which she would use to make up the losses, said Ms Fitzpatrick.

She was handed a 22-month suspended sentence by Judge Staines.