The former Ceann Comhairle of the Dail, Seamus Pattison who was struck down some years ago with Parkinson's Disease, had over €20,000 robbed from him, over a seven month period, by the young carer assigned to mind him in his own home in the city.
There were emotional scenes on Thursday in Kilkenny Circuit Criminal Court when Rachel Walsh (26), No 8 Lakeside Court, Kilkenny pleaded guilty to writing fraudulent cheques on Mr Pattison's cheque book and of using Mr Pattison's Visa card for transactions, which according to the trial judge, Karen O'Connor were thoughtful in the way it was carried out.
By the same token, she said that the thefts were not used to pay for an extravagant lifestyle and one trip to Barcelona, on Mr Pattison's credit card was not large.
She believed that Ms Walsh was truly remorseful and a letter of apology was forwarded to Mr Pattison while she made a guilty plea very early on in the garda investigation. And it was disclosed that Mr Pattison had been completely reimbursed by his bank.
Judge said that Ms Walsh had been employed to look after Mr Pattison for a period of 14 months before the investigation and for four months while the investigation was being carried out and she was eventually charged.
The offences were carried out between August 2014 and February 2015.
When confronted, Ms Walsh was quite distressed and made no attempt to minimise what she had done.
At an earlier sitting of the court, Det Garda John Kennedy said that Mr Pattison's brother had noticed a number of irregularities and was mandated to make enquiries in behalf of his brother. And at this stage the gardai were notified. A total of 25 cheques had been cashed by Ms Walsh for her own benefit. and a total of €21,685.
Judge O'Connor said the amounts involved were small and that there was no large spending spree and no attempt to lead the high life. There was one for €2,000 and the largest amount was €3,750 0n Mr Pattison's Visa card. She said Ms Walsh had through her own admission, highlighted other transactions carried out by her.
The Judge noted a very remorseful letter of apology was provided to the victim and Ms Walsh broke down in court at the end of the hearing while once again making her heartfelt apologies to Mr Pattison.
On a number of occasions, during her summing up, the judge referred to the very serious breach of trust involved in the case.
The judge said that Ms Walsh did not have a gambling or alcohol addiction problem and that the spending was modest and she noted that a short trip to Barcelona, paid for out of Mr Pattison's funds was not extravagant.
The judge did note that a lot of thought had gone into the spending methods used by Ms Walsh to defraud the victim. She said the charge before the court would put an end to Ms Walsh's attempts to enter the nursing profession.
She noted a number of testimonials from people vouching for Ms Walsh's good character including one from a former employer, Mrs Boyd. She said Ms Walsh was living with her widowed father and that he was in ill-health and that from an early date, attempts at restitution were made and that a sum of €2,293 had been paid back and that a further €1,200 had been offered in compensation. It was agreed that this money would be delivered to Garda Supt at Kilkenny Garda station and would be given back to the victim.
At this stage the court was told that Mr Pattison had been reimbursed for the loss by the bank, so there was no loss to the victim and it was explained that the money in court, €1,200 would be handed over to the victim to do as he liked with it.
Judge O'Connor said Mr Pattison had led an exemplary life of dedicated public service and that he had displayed considerable generosity of spirit in the case.
She sentenced Ms Walsh to two years in jail with the entire period suspended provided Ms Walsh sign a bond promising to be of good behaviour for two years and agreeing to doing a 240 hour community service in lieu of the sentence.
Judge O'Connor said she was giving Ms Walsh a chance and Ms Walsh said she appreciated it.
Det Garda John Kennedy was thanked by the judge for the manner in which he carried out his duties in an understanding manner.
Counsel for the State was Brian O'Shea BL instructed by the State solicitor for Kilkenny city and county, Mr Gerry Meaney.