A Letterkenny care worker, who admitted stealing a total of €1,450 from vulnerable occupants of a residential home in Kilmacrenan, whom she described as her “second family”, had her case put back to December 9 for a Probation Report at Dungloe District Court.
59-year-old Kathleen Frize, Drumaceveny, Trentagh, Letterkenny pleaded guilty to making a gain by false accounting to the total amount of €1,450, from a residential home in Kilmacrennan, two years ago.
Kathleen Frize, admitted 19 charges, that at Abbey Village, Kilmacrennan that she withdrew various sums for a resident at Abbey Court, Kilmacrennan and failed to record the amount or full amount in the HSE financial record and made a gain or caused loss by false accounting.
The amounts withdrawn were in lots of €100, €150 and €200 and came to a total of €2,600.
The 19 offences happened in a period from April 20 to November 30, 2017.
The court heard the defendant paid back all the stolen cash in full.
Patsy Gallagher, defence solicitor for the defendant, said his client had no real explanation for her actions.
She did not have any need of money but had an underlying condition and her actions were a “cry for help”.
Detective Garda John Gallagher told the court that he was contacted by Sheila Duffy, an HSE co-ordinator for residents with intellectual disabilities at the Abbey Village, Kilmacrennan to say there were “issues” on March 23, 2018.
On March 1, 2019, Ms Duffy made a statement of complaint after holding an internal audit. The complaint was made on behalf of the residents of the village.
The court heard the Village had an “internal banking system” where HSE care workers would help the residents in making withdrawals from an ATM.
Ms Duffy told the detective that from December 2016 to November 2017, there were anomalies as €1450 was taken in 19 transactions over ten different days, and documentary proof was given as evidence, the court heard.
The defendant admitted responsibility when questioned. She was not able to give an explanation but told the detective that it had “destroyed her mentally”.
The defendant said she had worked for the HSE for many years and has treated the residents as “her second family”. She was attending a counsellor and was at a “low ebb”.
But she was relieved the matter had come to a head as it meant she could start to seek answers for her actions.
A victim impact statement was read out in court, on behalf of the residents which referred to a big issue in relation to a serious breakdown in trust and the remaining staff were also affected and it would take a long time to repair this breach.
The court heard the defendant had on-going health issues.
Defence solicitor Patsy Gallagher said his client had the full support of her family who were in court. She had no excuse and her actions were a “cry for help”, the court was told.