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Taking her care share Thief who stole more than €6,000 from retired teacher (91) advertises as live-in carer for dementia sufferers

Sources have issued a warning to the public to carefully watch over elderly relatives, saying thefts such as that carried out by O'Sullivan are reaching epidemic proportions.

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Mary Ann O’Sullivan was given a four month suspended sentence

Mary Ann O’Sullivan was given a four month suspended sentence

Mary Ann O’Sullivan was given a four month suspended sentence

A thief who preyed on a 91-year-old retired teacher and stole more than €6,000 from her is advertising herself as a live-in carer for dementia sufferers on employment website LinkedIn.

The Sunday World publishes the first images of convicted thief Mary Ann O'Sullivan from Kinsale, Co Cork, who describes herself as a self-employed live-in carer on her LinkedIn profile - experienced in palliative and dementia care.

We can also reveal how one particularly brazen theft of money from retired teacher Catherine Beardsmore - to fund the wholesale purchase of beauty products O'Sullivan (57) was selling on through her own business Aloe Harmony - gave investigators the break they needed to charge her.

O'Sullivan - originally from Horsehill, Kinsale, Co Cork but now resident in Malaga, Spain - was given a four-month suspended sentence after she pleaded guilty to 27 counts of stealing money belonging to Ms Beardsmore, to whom she is distantly related, at AIB Bank Kinsale between December 24, 2014 and April 20, 2017.

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O’Sullivan was helpful in early days.

O’Sullivan was helpful in early days.

O’Sullivan was helpful in early days.

Sources who have spoken to this newspaper have issued a warning to the public to carefully watch over elderly relatives, saying thefts such as that carried out by O'Sullivan are reaching epidemic proportions.

"The woman targeted by Mary Ann O'Sullivan is one of the loveliest, kind-hearted ladies you could ever hope to meet," a source told the Sunday World.

"She retired here from the UK and came to Kinsale because of a connection going back to World War II.

"When Ms Beardsmore was a child she was sent to Kinsale from her home in the UK to keep her safe from the bombings that took place during the war.

"In recent years, that love she had for Kinsale from her childhood saw her move back here following her retirement from teaching in Wales.

"There is no doubt but that in the early days, after Catherine came to Kinsale, Mary Ann O'Sullivan did appear to be trying to help her. She helped set up a joint emergency bank account for her so that her teacher's pension could be lodged here."

The Sunday World understands that gardaí became aware of issues relating to O'Sullivan's access to the pensioner's finances only after a concerned friend of Catherine's alerted them that large sums of money seemed to be missing.

Discovered

It is understood, were it not for this woman, the thefts may never have been discovered.

"This friend cannot be praised highly enough for looking out for Catherine," a source said.

What the examination discovered was that O'Sullivan had also set up a secret second joint account to which she was diverting funds.

"And over a three-year period Mary Ann O'Sullivan spent thousands of euros of Catherine's cash on herself. As well as the unexplained spending, all correspondence relating to Catherine's accounts had been diverted to Mary Ann O'Sullivan."

The Sunday World understands that a key moment in the probe occurred when it emerged O'Sullivan had used money from Catherine's account to order beauty products wholesale from a Belfast-based company.

"O'Sullivan was selling these products through Aloe Harmony - a business of her own that she had set up in Kinsale," a source said.

"This was incontrovertible proof that the money was not being used for Catherine's benefit."

Sources say that, given Mary Ann O'Sullivan's conviction, there is valid reason for concern over her profile on LinkedIn publicising herself as a carer for vulnerable people.

In the post, O'Sullivan describes herself as a "self-employed, live-in carer, experienced in palliative, dementia, cerebral palsy, elderly and youth care".

She adds she has 10-plus years experience in this role.

Although O'Sullivan would require garda vetting if she was to seek out such a role in this country, it is unlikely the same background checks would apply in her role as a 'self-employed' carer in Spain.

Attempts to contact O'Sullivan and ask whether she intends on continuing in the role of a carer were unsuccessful.

A mobile phone number listed to her from her time in Kinsale is dead while a message to her Facebook page did not elicit a response.

Details of the scale of O'Sullivan's theft from Ms Beardsmore emerged during her sentencing hearing at Bandon District Court last week.

The court heard how, although O'Sullivan had previously appeared to be of exemplary character and had no prior convictions, she had preyed financially on her elderly relative over a three-year period.

The money was taken from an account in AIB Bank, Kinsale between December 24, 2014 and April 20, 2017.

Pension

Det Garda Mick Brosnan of Kinsale Garda Station told Judge Colm Roberts that O'Sullivan had assisted Ms Beardsmore, who was a distant relative, with her financial affairs when she retired to Kinsale.

The 91-year-old was having her teacher's pension from the UK paid into a Barclays bank account there.

O'Sullivan assisted her in setting up a joint emergency account with both their names on it at AIB Bank in Kinsale. This account was set up with both the knowledge and consent of Ms Beardsmore.

However, O'Sullivan without permission or consent, also set up a second joint account with AIB and from 2014 to 2017 she stole €6,427 from this secret account in 27 transactions.

Judge Roberts said that pensioners must be protected from persons who prey on their vulnerability and that O'Sullivan had committed a major breach of trust.

He said he feared such an offence was happening to other elderly people nationwide who put their financial affairs in the trust of relatives.

"We have to protect the elderly…I have a duty to mark the seriousness of this crime so that people don't engage in this type of offence."

Defence solicitor Denis Healy said that O'Sullivan wanted to enter a guilty plea and had brought €6,500 in compensation to court - more than the amount that she had stolen.

Judge Roberts suspended a four-month sentence, taking into account her guilty plea, her lack of previous convictions and repayment of the funds.

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