Woman who stole from elderly Bray woman she cared for may escape jail

A Dublin woman who stole from the elderly woman she was providing respite care to in Bray may be asked to complete community service in lieu of a prison sentence.

Lesley Dyer (40) of Constitution Hill, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of theft of a total of €1,050 at the home of the woman who lived in Bray, Co Wicklow on June 18, 2022 and August 13, 2022. The mother of five has two previous convictions for possession of drugs and a road traffic offence.

Judge Orla Crowe said the offence was “a really serious breach of trust” noting that “the first theft may have been opportunistic but the second was not”.

“She was entrusted with the care of an elderly, vulnerable woman. It is a sensitive and highly responsible role and the breach of trust is particularly grievous,” Judge Crowe said.

The judge said that Dyer “owes a debt to society” and adjourned the case to allow for the woman to be assessed by the Probation Service to determine if she is suitable for community service.

Judge Crowe said should Dyer be considered suitable for community service, she will order her to carry out 240 hours in lieu of an 18-month prison term. She adjourned the case to November 3 next, to allow for the assessment.

Garda Eoin O’Donnell told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that the victim in the case suffered from dementia and her daughter was her full-time carer. Dyer provided respite to that daughter, by acting as the woman’s carer, in the morning time.

The daughter later told gardaí that on June 18, 2022, she had left €1,000 in an envelope in her handbag, which she left in a drawer of a coffee table in the front room of the house. A number of days later she noticed that while the envelope was still in the handbag, the cash was missing.

The family decided to install CCTV cameras and on August 13, 2022 they received a notification that there was movement upstairs in the house. The victim’s grandsons arrived to find Dyer coming down the stairs. It was then noted that €50 had been taken from a card in a press downstairs.

The grandsons confronted Dyer with the fact that she had taken money and she accepted she had.

Gda O’Donnell agreed with Ms McGowan that one of the grandsons got Dyer to write on an envelope that she was responsible for taking both the €1,000 and €50 and she signed that confession. She wrote “please don’t go to my job or the police”.

Two days later gardaí arrived at Dyer’s home and arrested her. She made admissions in a subsequent interview and said she had recently split up with her partner. She said she was under pressure to pay a credit union loan that he had taken out in her name.

She apologised to the “poor” woman and she had said had let everyone down “the job, my kids and my family”.

Gda O’Donnell confirmed that a victim impact statement was not prepared for the hearing.

He agreed with Niamh Foley BL, defending, that her client has five children ranging in age from six to 19 years old and “money is tight”. The family live in a two-bedroom apartment.

Dyer had written a letter of apology to the victim stating her remorse and promising to “pay every penny back to you”.

Ms Foley said her client left school without having completed any state exams.

She said Dyer was shocked and ashamed of herself and was struggling to come to terms with the fact that she carried out the thefts. Her former partner, who is the father of her three younger children, is not supporting her financially, counsel told the court.

She asked Judge Crowe to take into account her client’s co-operation and said she is willing to pay back €20 to €30 per month to the family.

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