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'no gain' Carer took €4.9k from friend's account and gave it to charity


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A COMMUNITY volunteer who took money from her best friend's account has claimed she had been told by her to give the money to charity.

Claire O'Keefe (64) took a total of €4,900 over a five-month period in 2018, and dropped it in a brown envelope into a centre.

Her elderly friend was a ward of court at the time, and O'Keefe did not have permission from the executor to withdraw the cash, a court heard.

Her friend had since passed away. Judge Gerard Jones said he was satisfied that O'Keefe had not personally gained from withdrawing the money.

Judge Jones adjourned sentencing to a date in September, saying he wanted gardaí to verify that the money had gone to charity.

O'Keefe had initially refused to name the charity that had benefited, saying she would be breaching her friend's confidence, but she later wrote it on a piece of paper and handed it to the judge.

The defendant, of Cherryfield Close in Hartstown, admitted seven counts of theft on dates in March, April, May and July 2018.

Sergeant Walter Sweeney told Blanchardstown District Court O'Keefe withdrew money from the victim's Permanent TSB account, totalling €4,900.

The bank had repaid the money into the victim's account.

Defence lawyer Ciaran MacLoughlin said this was a very unusual case as the defendant had been best friends with the victim, and O'Keefe claimed the victim had asked her to take the money out of her account and give it to charity.

However, the friend was a ward of court, and O'Keefe did not have permission from the executor to take the cash.

O'Keefe was very involved in her local church and in charitable endeavours, Mr MacLoughlin said. She was also a carer for her husband, who had suffered a stroke.

O'Keefe said she had known the victim since 2009 and she was a very valued member of her community.

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She accepted that she had been "dim" and "naive", but insisted the victim had told her to take out the money.

She said that, at the time, she had asked her friend if she had permission to take the money, and her friend told her to take it out.

O'Keefe also said the victim told her that under no circumstances was her daughter to get any money.

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