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brown envelope Carer (64) who took cash from friend’s account avoids jail

Claire O’Keefe claimed she took €4,900 and gave it to charity on the instructions of an elderly friend

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Claire O'Keefe, Cherryfield Close in Hartstown

Claire O'Keefe, Cherryfield Close in Hartstown

Claire O'Keefe, Cherryfield Close in Hartstown

A CHARITY has been unable to find any donations matching money which a carer took out of her best friend’s bank account and claimed she gave to it, “like a sealed confession”, a court has heard.

Claire O’Keefe (64) took €4,900 over a five-month period in 2018. She claimed she did this on the instructions of her elderly friend, and she anonymously dropped the money in a brown envelope into the Capuchin Centre.

Her friend was a ward of court at the time. O’Keefe did not have permission from the executor to withdraw the cash. Her friend had since died.

Garda Martin Flood said he had contacted the Capuchin Centre and it had no record of receiving any anonymous donations in the sums claimed by O’Keefe.

Gda Flood also said a restraining order had been obtained by the executor of the late woman’s estate against O’Keefe in 2017.

Judge Gerard Jones said it was very unsatisfactory that there were no receipts. He imposed a three-month sentence, suspended for two years.

The defendant, of Cherryfield Close in Hartstown, had admitted seven counts of theft on dates in 2018.
Sergeant Walter Sweeney had told Blanchardstown District Court that O’Keefe withdrew €700 on seven occasions from the victim’s bank account, totalling €4,900.

The bank had repaid the money.

Defence lawyer Ciaran MacLoughlin said the defendant and the victim had been best friends.

O’Keefe claimed the victim had asked her to take the money out of her account and give it to charity.

However, O’Keefe did not have permission from the executor to take the cash.

In her evidence, O’Keefe claimed she was “naive”, and would never have done what she did if she thought it was wrong.

O’Keefe was very involved in her local church and in charitable endeavours, Mr MacLoughlin said.

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She was also a carer for her husband, who had suffered a stroke.

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