major intrusion | 

Healthcare worker who stole dying man’s bank card to go gambling avoids jail

Three days after Sean O’Neill’s attempted con, the victim sadly died

Antrim area hospital

Paul HigginsSunday Life

A disgraced hospital healthcare assistant who stole a dying man’s bank card to go gambling has narrowly escaped going to jail.

A judge told Sean O’Neill “the only thing that is saving you” from going to Maghaberry “is the fact that no money was actually taken, though that’s not because of anything you did”.

The 32-year-old was handed a six-month jail sentence for the “nasty offence’’, but suspended for three years.

At an earlier hearing O’Neill, from Cypress Park in Ballymena, confessed to a single count of fraud by abuse of position on March 16 this year.

The victim was receiving palliative care at Antrim Area Hospital when his daughter noticed her dad had £190 and his bank card in his wallet.

Later that day, however, another visitor saw that the cash was missing and a short time later, the dying man’s phone received messages from the bank about an attempted transaction of £200 to William Hill Online and asking for confirmation.

Thankfully, the family was able to put a halt on the transactions and the lawyer said police investigations with the bookmaker revealed that the bank card had been used to “fund an online betting account registered in the name of Sean O’Neill”.

Three days after the attempted con, the man sadly died.

Arrested and interviewed O’Neill confessed trying to take £450 in three attempted transactions but denied stealing the cash from the patient’s wallet.

Lodging a plea in mitigation, O’Neill’s defence solicitor said that despite his previously clear record, O’Neill “has lost his reputation, his good name and he will likely lose his job”.

She described the “very distasteful offence” as a “moment of madness” by O’Neill. The court was told he is now undergoing counselling and treatment for his gambling addiction. O’Neill nodded his head in agreement when the lawyer said he was “filled with remorse and shame”.

Sentencing O’Neill, the judge told him his clear record and counselling were also keeping him out of prison for his “gross breach of trust”. “It is a major intrusion on the victim’s personal finances and it would have had a knock-on effect on his family,” he told O’Neill.

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