A 65-year-old woman who stole her elderly friend's bank card while visiting her in hospital and stole more than €2,700 from the victim over three months has been jailed for four months.
In the months before the 90-year-old victim's hospitalisation, Lynda Goldsmith began taking money from her bank account by getting cash back while she was buying groceries for her.
She also took money from the woman's purse which was in a drawer in her bedroom.
It has never been determined how much cash Goldsmith stole from the woman's purse but she told gardaí in interview that she thinks she stole "maybe about €400 or €500".
Goldsmith had been friends with the woman for 18 months and brought her to church services and a church lunch every Friday in their local parish in Taney, Dundrum.
She also accompanied the woman to her local newsagents to buy chocolate and other groceries.
On one occasion the victim would be outside the shop in Goldsmith's car while Goldsmith did the shopping for her.
Goldsmith of Broadford Park, Ballinteer, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four charges of stealing cash and one of theft of an ATM card which were a representative sample of 31 thefts between January 16, 2019 and April 4, 2019.
The court heard that after she stole the woman's card from her in hospital, Goldsmith accepted €70 from the woman's son, which she claimed the woman owed her in petrol money for taking her to church services.
Goldsmith has a previous conviction for stealing from a woman's purse while the victim was shopping in December 2015. She also received an adult caution for stealing €700 from a family while she was working as a childminder in March and April 2007.
Judge Pauline Codd yesterday noted that the total taken using the ATM card was in the region of €2,750 and that the total sum stolen from the woman's handbag was unquantified.
The judge said it was significantly aggravating that Goldsmith stole from the victim while she was sick in hospital.
The fact that she had memorised the woman's PIN while watching her use it also showed premeditation.
Judge Codd took into account in mitigation Goldsmith's guilty plea, her admissions, ill health, remorse and personal circumstances.
She noted Goldsmith had a history of depression and had suffered a loss of reputation through her own actions.
Judge Codd imposed an 18-month sentence and suspended the final 14 months.
She said Goldsmith should undergo 14 months' probation supervision and should not occupy any unsupervised role as a volunteer carer.
The victim's son said in a victim impact statement that his mother no longer wears her engagement ring for fear it will be taken and often complains that her knitting and clothing have been stolen from her in the nursing home where she now lives.
She sleeps with her handbag under her pillow.
Detective Garda Barry Brennan told Gráinne O'Neill BL, prosecuting, that it was first noticed that money had been taken from the woman's account when she was in hospital recovering from a fall and noticed that her bank card had gone missing.
Her son ultimately cancelled the bank card when he discovered a number of unauthorised transactions.
Det Gda Brennan said Goldsmith admitted in garda interview that she stole the cash because she felt her pension didn't go very far and said "I thought it would be nice to have a bit of money."