'no empathy' Care assistant who stole from elderly woman to pay for Netflix is "cold" and "callous", it is claimed
Guilty: Care assistant used cash to pay for online games and Netflix
A relative of a vulnerable resident of a HSE care home has said a worker who robbed from residents' accounts to buy luxuries is cold, callous and lacking empathy.
Care assistant Edwin Gall, of Grangerath, Drogheda, pleaded guilty to stealing €22,144 from nine residents of Barden Lodge, Julianstown, Co Meath on dates between March 2016 and February 2017.
The 51-year-old father-of-three could not offer any explanation for stealing from his victims and Trim Circuit Court heard he used the money to pay for Netflix and Sky subscriptions as well as on video games and trainers.
The furious family member said Gall abused his position of trust with vulnerable people and was cold and callous.
"He should have more cop on than most about vulnerable people and have empathy. It's cold and callous. There was no empathy there. If there was, he'd be thinking to himself, 'what if I had a member of my family in a home like this and this was happening?' Instead he was paying for Netflix accounts with their money."
He added that the residents liked Gall before finding out what he did.
"He was great to the people. He had a great relationship with all the people but behind it all he was going home and spending all their money on his bills. He was able to spend €22,000 in his house. He spent €5,000 on computer games on Microsoft; he bought new shoes, paid for Netflix and Sky. There were payments on PayPal."
The relatives said one of the most upsetting things for families is that even if victims had spoken up about their money being taken their relatives probably wouldn't have believed them due to the issues.
"Some of these people are on a lot of medication so if they did speak up if they noticed something their families would probably put it down to being confused or medication."
He said Gall had become brazen, stealing from residents without thinking there'd be consequences.
"He's a very silly fella because every action has a reaction and he never thought about the reaction. He got brazen."
Crime World Podcast
This week on Crime World, Nicola Tallant talks to Peter Bleksley about suspect Kevin Parle who has remained on the run for more than 15 years. We hear about the shocking murders he is wanted for and how Bleksley believes he is being helped by an Irish criminal gang.
However, he said what Gall has done has made the family question everything. This man was like a catfish. He catfished people so he could spend money on PayPal and all these things."
He said he hopes the case shines a light on the situation of people in such homes who he feels have been forgotten by society.
"Covid has brought home to a lot of people what isolation can do. When people hear how long people are in institutions ... I hope people read that and might be able to do something for these people in terms of a little bit of reform.
"We don't want compensation. We were offered compensation in court but we don't want that.
"We want reform and to make sure we can pave the path we walk down for the next man behind us so he doesn't have to feel the stuff we felt.
"If you're in a relationship and lose trust it would lead you to moving on and being with someone else. Where do you move on when your relative is in an institution and you've lost trust? It's scary."
Trim Circuit Court heard Gall worked as a care assistant in Barden Lodge, which caters for between 11 and 13 adults with intellectual disabilities and provides 24 hour care.
The residents pay rent to live there and have their own bank accounts but the accounts are managed by staff who keep their cards in a central safe on their behalf.
Staff must record on a form any purchases or withdrawals made by staff on behalf of residents but Gall had been entering lesser amounts on the forms than he was withdrawing.
Staff first became aware of an issue in June 2016 when €500 had been withdrawn from the account of a blind man who was resident in the home and the amount withdrawn had raised suspicions.
The amount was subsequently deposited back in the account and Gall claimed it was down to a technical issue at the bank.
However, instead of stopping at that point, Gall continued to steal from residents and eight months later an audit of the accounts was carried out after a manager noticed payments to Sky and Netflix from residents' accounts. Gall later admitted he had been taking money but had no explanation as to why.
"There was no debt," said the relative. "He told the judge I don't know why I done it. There was no remorse in my opinion."
He said after he found out that Gall had taken the money he discovered he lived in an expensive house in Drogheda which made it all the more baffling as to why he took the money.
"When this all came to light about this man I found out he lives in a really big house," the man said. "More effort should be made to give these people a better life."
Gall is due to be sentenced this week.
Download the Sunday World app