A woman stole more than €12,000 from her elderly grandparents by using their ATM card and, later, stealing their cheque book and attempting to lodge cheques to her account.
Kilkenny Circuit Court has convicted the women on four sample counts of theft and three counts of deception. She has been ordered to pay back the money to her 80 year old grandmother, and a suspended sentence has been handed down.
Hannah McQuinn, 17 Oakwood Court, Parknagowan, Kilkenny, appeared before Judge Catherine Staines.
Evidence was heard that between June and December 2019 Ms McQuinn used an ATM card to withdraw a total of €12,329 from her grandparents’ bank account. They had given the card to her to get groceries for them.
Ms McQuinn, who initially faced 73 charges, used the card to take sums from €20 to more than €300 at ATMs in Kilkenny and Waterford, over a seventh month period.
Garda James Leech said Ms McQuinn had the PIN number for the card because she did shopping for her grandparents. Sometime in 2019 she started to make the unauthorised withdrawals.
The defendant’s grandparents were very much involved in raising her, the court heard.
In late 2019 her grandparents became aware of what was happening. The ATM card was taken away from Ms McQuinn and gardaí were contacted. At that time her grandparents did not want to pursue a prosecution. Garda Leech said ‘they thought that was the end of it.’
But then Ms McQuinn took their cheque book from the house.
Three charges of deception arose out of events the following month.
Ms McQuinn, who had access to her grandparents’ home, stole their cheque book. She attempted to lodge three cheques to her own bank account in the sums of €300, €310 and €5,500. She never had any authority to use the cheque book.
Just one of the cheques cleared because at this stage the bank had become suspicious, the court was told.
On January 7, 2020, two cheques were lodged to her account. Another was lodged on January 8.
Ms McQuinn’s grandfather had passed away on January 5, 2020.
Ultimately none of the cheques were successfully cashed because there was not enough money in the account, the court was told.
Three more cheques from the book were lodged to the account of Ms McQuinn’s then boyfriend. They were for a total of €12,244. Two of the cheques were stopped but one, for €3,249, did clear.
The bank did refund this to the account holders and the man was dealt with at another court.
Ms McQuinn’s hotel room was searched and the cheque book recovered.
When she was arrested and interviewed by gardaí Ms McQuinn said she had been under pressure to take the money. Gardaí accepted there was an element of that.
Ms McQuinn had no convictions at the time, but since has five for theft type offences.
The bank did not refund any of the ATM transactions as Ms McQuinn had been given the PIN number.
Judge Staines was told Ms McQuinn has continued to maintain a good relationship with her grandmother, who was supporting her in court.
The defendant ‘went off the rails’ in 2019/2020 when she met her then boyfriend, the court heard. He is now serving a prison sentence for assaulting her.
Both of them had a significant drug habit at the time.
Ms McQuinn now lives in Cork with her new partner and is in full time employment. She has ‘turned a corner.’
Her defence barrister said her former partner ‘clearly had his hands all over this.’ While this didn’t absolve Ms McQuinn it put a background to the offences.
A Probation Report and Psychological Report were handed in to court. Ms McQuinn was described as a vulnerable person. She was taken advantage of.
His client was willing to pay back the money over time, the barrister said.
Judge Staines convicted Ms McQuinn. She said aggravating factors in the case were that the victims were elderly and had placed Ms McQuinn in a position of trust. In mitigation, Ms McQuinn had cooperated with gardaí and at the time she was under pressure from a violent boyfriend.
The judge convicted Ms McQuinn on the first theft charge, with all other charges taken into consideration. Judge Staines handed down a one year prison term, to be suspended for three years on condition Ms McQuinn attend counselling, avail of community addiction supports, attend all Probation Service appointments, and that she repay the money in full.
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