05 Oct 2022

Man stole partner’s savings as her mum was 'terminally ill'

Man stole partner’s savings as her mum was 'terminally ill'

Man stole partner’s savings as her mum was 'terminally ill'

A MAN stole his then partner’s “life savings” while she was caring for her terminally ill mother, Limerick Circuit Court heard.

Judge Tom O’Donnell said it was “as mean spirited as I have come across for a long time”.

Anthony Fleming, aged 61, with an address at Shannonvale, Old Cratloe Road, Limerick city was charged with and pleaded guilty to the theft of €10,000. He denies stealing a sum of €32,000 which the victim alleges.

Prosecuting barrister, John O'Sullivan, instructed by state solicitor Padraig Mawe, said a relationship commenced between the victim and the accused. He said they resided in Shannonvale, Old Cratloe Road after purchasing a house in joint names. Mr O’Sullivan said Mr Fleming stole certain monies from his then partner which she says were her “life savings”.

The court heard how the victim made a number of cash withdrawals from her bank in September and October of 2012.

Mr Sullivan said €20,000 was put in a biscuit tin and placed in the attic. A further €12,000 was put in an envelope in a cupboard under the stairs.

“The victim was prevailed upon by the accused to take the money out over concerns regarding the safety of deposits in financial institutions. The stability of the Greek economy was to the fore at the time. She was in a vulnerable position as she was under considerable stress and pressure as she was taking care of her ill mother,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

The barrister said after her mother died in May 2016 she enquired with the accused about the money.

“She said he told her, ‘It’s all gone. I used it. There is nothing that can be done about it’. She said, ‘That is my life savings’. She said he had ‘no remorse’,” said Mr O’Sullivan.  Mr Fleming was arrested in May 2016 and admitted taking €10,000 from the biscuit tin.

“He said there was €10,000 in the biscuit tin, not €20,000. He denies taking money under the stairs. She maintains it was in excess of €30,000, her life savings, that was taken. A prosecution was brought in respect of €10,000,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Sergeant Dermot Keating confirmed that in a garda interview the defendant said: “I didn’t take €32,000. She will get her €10,000 back when I get sorted.”

Mr O’Sullivan asked the sergeant if the injured party had “received a penny?” “No,” said Sgt Keating.

Mr O’Sullivan said the victim says she was “manipulated” and Mr Fleming told her, “No court will believe you. No judge will take it seriously.”

“It was a gross breach of trust. Her mental state was undermined. She was at a financial loss and it was extremely traumatic,” said Mr O’Sullivan. Sgt Keating concurred.

Pat Whyms BL, who represented Mr Fleming, said his client has no previous convictions and has been charged with the theft of €10,000.

He put it to the sergeant that Mr Fleming admitted over a period of time taking amounts of €100/€200 and spent the money on household bills and nights out. “Yes,” said Sgt Keating.

The sergeant agreed that Mr Fleming accepted he had done wrong but stated “I did not wrong her out of €32,000”.

Mr Whyms said: “He admitted taking €10,000 and is charged with taking €10,000.”

The injured party read out her own victim impact statement in which she said she discovered in 2016 that Mr Fleming “stole my life savings of €30,000 plus”.

“It was everything I saved over the years. I was devastated. He stole my life savings while I was caring for my mother who was terminally ill. He showed no remorse. He said nobody would believe me. I continue to feel traumatised. I took early retirement. I do not trust anybody.

“I lost my confidence, I became very depressed and afraid of everything. I want him out of my life completely, “ said the victim, who thanked Sgt Keating, Garda Lisa Griffin and the DPP.

In mitigation, Mr Whyms said his client is on disability due to having COPD and diabetes and has had stents inserted.

“He is ashamed of what he did. He started using the €10,000 towards paying bills and funding his own leisure pursuits. He knows nothing about a sum of money in an envelope under the stairs. There is no charge,” said Mr Whyms.

The barrister said his client has engaged with a solicitor through the legal aid board to transfer his share in the house to the victim.

“The financial benefit will be far greater than €10,000, which is the subject of the court, or even the €30,000 referred to. The transfer is an acknowledgement of his guilt and wrong doing,” said Mr Whyms.

Judge O’Donnell said it was “as mean spirited as he has come across for a long time”. He adjourned matters to October to have a letter in respect of the transfer of the house.

“I will factor that in. If not I will factor that in. There is a history I find appalling. I will stay my hand. I will keep all my options open,” said Judge O’Donnell.

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