A woman who stole money from two vulnerable pensioners will avoid a four-month prison sentence if she completes 150 hours of community service instead.
Maura Dillon (49), a native of Inverin, who now lives at, 122 An Cimin Mór, Cappagh Road, Knocknacarra, pleaded guilty to the theft of €500 cash and a bus pass from an elderly patient being treated for a heart condition at UHG on February 22 last, when she first appeared before Galway District Court in July.
The mother of two also pleaded guilty to the theft of €100 from a 76-year-old man at Maree Road, Oranmore, on November 15 last year.
Sergeant Brendan Moore, told the court in July that the first offence occurred when Dillon stopped her car alongside an elderly man in Oranmore village at 11am on November 15 last year on the pretext of looking for directions to Maree.
She got him to sit into her car and drove him to Maree. On the way back to Oranmore, she told her unsuspecting passenger that his seat belt was undone.
She leaned across as if to fix the belt, but instead stole an envelope which contained two €50 notes from the inside pocket of the man’s jacket. She then dropped him off in Oranmore. He later noticed the money had been taken and contacted the Gardaí.
CCTV from a nearby business premises captured Dillon’s car dropping the man off.
Sgt. Moore said the second offence involved another vulnerable man who was making his way to the acute ward in UHG for a heart check-up on February 22 last.
Dillon again pulled her car alongside him as he walked to the hospital and offered him a lift.
He refused to get into the car and walked on. She persisted by pulling alongside the man further up the road and speaking to him in Irish. He answered her in Irish and then agreed to take the lift.
She went into the hospital with him for his heart check-up. She asked him if he had money for food before the check-up and he told her his wallet was in his trousers which were left on the bed.
He went for the tests and later discovered the wallet was taken when he returned to his cubicle to get dressed. It had contained €500 and a bus pass.
CCTV at the hospital identified Dillon as the culprit. The cash was not recovered in either case, Sgt. Moore added.
He confirmed Dillon had no previous convictions.
Dillon brought €100 to court in July for the victims.
Judge Grainne O’Neill said at the time that Dillon had since last November to pay the compensation and she had only brought €100.
The judge said this had been “a very nasty crime, preying on vulnerable people” and there was a level of premeditation, involving an ill man with a heart condition and another vulnerable 76-year-old man.
Dillon returned to the court later that day with another €100.
Sentence was adjourned to October for the balance of €400 to be paid to the victims.
Judge Mary Fahy took the case over in October.
Defence solicitor, Colin Lynch said Dillon had brought the balance of €400 to court to compensate the victims.
Judge Fahy adjourned finalisation of sentence to this week’s court for a probation assessment to be carried out as to Dillon’s suitability to carry out community service in lieu of a prison sentence.
The probation service deemed her a suitable candidate and the judge directed Dillon carry out 150 hours’ community service in lieu of a four-month prison sentence on each theft charge, to run concurrently.