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Fraudster who took €35k from man avoids jail

A CONVICTED fraudster has avoided a prison sentence after she conned more than €35,000 from an intellectually disabled man by forging official documents.

Anne Gillen (56), of Bentley Villas, Dun Laoghaire, pleaded guilty to a number of sample charges of fraud and deception, including using a bogus general power-of-attorney form and a false bank mandate to induce staff at Permanent TSB in Dun Laoghaire and Blackrock to hand over cash.

REMORSE

Judge Mary Ellen Ring imposed a five-year sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court but suspended it fully on a number of conditions including that Gillen attends addiction services.

She said Gillen appeared to show genuine remorse after reflecting on her behaviour during four months in custody.

Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, said Gillen’s partner at the time, Joseph Potts, was made the legitimate power of attorney for his intellectually disabled uncle, Joseph Murray, in 2009 after Mr Murray’s mother died.

Mr Potts’ brother, Christopher, who was a second power of attorney, subsequently noticed that a total of €35,420, had been removed from the man’s account without permission.

He reported it to the gardai in November 2010 after making enquiries with the bank.

Sgt Barry O’Connor said gardai later established that a number of documents provided to the bank to allow Gillen to withdraw the cash had been falsified.

A solicitor confirmed that while a general power of attorney giving permission to Mr Potts to access the account was genuine, a second one also giving authority to Gillen had been forged.

He also confirmed that, though a bank mandate allowing Mr Potts to withdraw cash from the account had been witnessed by him, he had not authorised the insertion of Gillen’s name on to the form.

Gillen withdrew the cash over seven months between February and September 2010.

She was arrested in August 2011 and “exercised her right to silence”, Mr Collins said.

Sgt O’Connor said the victim has not had any of the money returned to him and the bank has not refunded him.

He confirmed that Gillen had a total of 61 previous convictions including for forgery offences.

Sgt O’Connor agreed with Patrick Reynolds BL, defending, that Gillen had an alcohol problem and was addicted to prescribed medication.

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Mr Reynolds said his client claimed she had “assistance in spending the money”, which was principally spent on drink.

A car had also been bought in the name of Mr Potts which he later “disposed of”, counsel said.

Mr Reynolds told the court that Gillen’s relationship with Mr Potts and her earlier marriage had been “alcohol-laden”.

Judge Ring noted that she was at moderate risk of re-offending, but said she was “clearly a woman of ability”.

She ordered Gillen to keep the peace for five years and to undergo supervision by the Probation Services for the next two years.

hnews@herald.ie


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