guilty plea | 

Doctor's receptionist who stole €55K from her employer out of 'basic greed' is jailed

Anita Gallagher pleaded guilty

Anita Gallagher pleaded guilty

Sonya McLean

A DOCTOR'S receptionist who stole more than €55,000 from her employer of almost 20 years has received an operative 15-month prison sentence.

Anita Gallagher (54) had been working as a receptionist for Dr John Peters at his practice in Clonee, Dublin 15, since 2001 and the doctor became suspicious in 2019 that money had been stolen.

He discovered through his own investigation that Gallagher was regularly stealing the €60 fee that private patients of the practice were paying instead of adding the cash to the till.

Gallagher had been taking an average of €8,000 a year from 2013 to 2019.

Detective Garda Bernard Connaughton told Rónán Prendergast BL, prosecuting, that Dr Peter's wife was the practice manager and Gallagher's offending behaviour often increased while she was away for prolonged periods.

Gallagher resigned from the practice in September 2019 after Dr Peters called her in for a meeting to discuss the findings of his own internal investigation.

She immediately made admissions and apologised, but asked that her family not be told about it.

Her marriage of 28 years broke down when gardaí later called at her home in June 2020 to arrest her after Dr Peters reported the thefts.

Gallagher now lives with her elderly father.

Gallagher of Bramblefield Crescent, Littlepace, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight sample charges of stealing from the practice, Littlepace Medical Centre, on dates between January 2013 and August 2019. She has no previous convictions.

Judge Melanie Greally said that the offending was an extreme betrayal of the trust placed in Gallagher both as an employee and as a family friend.

Judge Greally described it as a crime of "opportunism".

She set a headline sentence of three and a half years, but after taking mitigation into account, she reduced this by one year. She suspended the final 15 months of this.

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