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Carer stole €41,000 from elderly neighbour to spend it on home improvements, clothes and holidays

Laura Pennick pleaded guilty in court yesterday.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A WOMAN BECAME her elderly neighbour’s carer before stealing over €41,000 from her and spending it on home improvements, clothes and holidays, a court has heard.

Laura Pennick (29) with an address in Bride Street, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to the thefts totalling €41,935 from Marie McNally between January 2010 and December 2012.

Garda Colin Rourke told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday that Pennick, a single mother, befriended McNally when she was living two doors away from her in Finglas.

She became McNally’s “unofficial carer” and started collecting her pension and paying her bills. She had access to McNally’s ATM cards and two bank accounts, including one which contained McNally’s inheritance from the sale of her late mother’s house.

Rourke said Pennick made a number of withdrawals ranging from “very small amounts up to €600”. She spent the money on “home improvements, fashion purchases, home furnishings, home appliances and holidays”, the court heard.

When questioned by gardaí following McNally’s discovery of the loss, Pennick “said she had financial worries of her own and needed to do it”, Rourke said.

She has 29 previous convictions including five theft convictions, Rourke said. One of the convictions was for the theft of €1,000 from her previous employer, JD Sports, he said.

The court heard McNally was extremely upset when she discovered the loss and her financial position was now “perilous”. She did not wish to give a victim impact statement.

Damien Colgan SC, defending, said Pennick owed money at the time to “individuals” who made “real threats” against her.

He said Pennick regretted her actions and had told gardaí that if there was any way she could repay the money, she would. She had €3,900 to give McNally as a token of her remorse, he added.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the matter to allow for a probation services report.

“This is a serious offence involving a serious breach of trust and the accused has a history of dishonesty,” Judge Greally said.

Pennick will be sentenced on 7 November.

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Isabel Hayes

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