Guilty plea | 

Care worker who stole €3k from pensioner showed 'no flashiness' in her spending, court told

Lorraine Hennessy (40) of Clonlara, Co Clare has pleaded guilty to 22 theft charges

Lorraine Hennessy, Clonlara, Co. Clare, who pleaded guilty to 22 theft charges

Gordon Deegan

A care home worker who stole over €3,000 from an elderly resident spent the money on insurance, motor tax and utility bills and debts, a court has heard.

Solicitor Darragh Hassett told Killaloe District Court in Co Clare that there was “no element of flashiness” in the spending by Lorraine Hennessy (40) of the money she stole from Terrance Stevenson (83).

Hennessy, of Glor na Srutha, Clonlara, has pleaded guilty to 22 theft charges concerning €3,011 between August 20 and October 5, 2020, from Mr Stevenson.

The court heard that Mr Stevenson, who died in January 2021, was a single man and had moved to Killaloe from the UK around 30 years ago.

He had had not had a visitor to the care home for over two years.

Judge Mary Larkin said that there had “been a breach of trust” by Hennessy of Mr Stevenson. She told the court todau: "I am definitely going to convict because of the breach of trust of Mr Stevenson.”

Sgt Louis Moloney told the court: “It is a particularly bad offence and there are many of them and it was taken badly locally.”

Judge Larkin said she required a Probation Report prior to sentencing and adjourned the case to July.

In previous evidence, Det Garda John Jenks said Mr Stevenson knew he was dying when he made a statement to gardaí concerning the thefts.

Det Jenks said the 22 thefts were carried out through a Visa debit card that Mr Stevenson had given to Hennessy to get his messages.

He said Hennessy spent the money on insurance payments, online motor tax, utility bills and payments to a high interest loan company along with a contribution to a daughter’s school.

The thefts ranged in value from €20 to €450.

The court heard that Mr Stevenson moved into the care home in December 2018 as he was no longer able to look after himself and wanted to spend his last few years in comfort in a care home.

Det Jenks said that when gardaí went to Hennessy’s home on February 19 last year, she immediately accepted responsibility for the thefts.

He said Hennessy - who was employed as a care worker at the home from April 2020 to November 2020 - said that she was under pressure for money.

Det Jenks said Hennessy’s late partner took his own life in 2016 and his body was found by a then 17-year-old daughter in a garden shed. He said this tragedy greatly impacted Hennessy.

Mr Hassett previously stated his client was “utterly ashamed”. He said “temptation raised its head” when Hennessy was given Mr Stevenson’s bank card.

Mr Hassett said Hennessy was under “massive pressure” money-wise and has no previous convictions.

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