Stole £30k from his father’s bank account

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A man stole more than £30,000 from his father’s bank accounts and used it to ‘feed his gambling habit’, a court has heard.

Martin O’Brien stole the money over a three-year period after his 75-year-old father, who had several strokes and was suffering from dementia, was moved to residential care.

The 55-year-old, of Rossnagalliagh Park, pleaded guilty to theft, fraud by abuse of position and making articles for use in fraud.

The offences were committed between July 2010 and May 2013.

Londonderry Crown Court heard O’Brien’s father had been cared for by another family member.

As his condition deteriorated a social worker suggested moving him to a residential care home.

O’Brien and his three siblings all agreed this was the best course of action.

Once his father was in the care home, the 55-year-old agreed to look after his finances.

The court was told the injured party, who has since died, had an account with Pennyburn Credit Union, Derry Credit Union and a Post Office account.

The family remained unaware that anything was wrong until their father’s condition deteriorated further and he was admitted to hospital.

The defendant then confessed to his sister that he had taken their father’s money.

He told her ‘I got it all out. It’s all away’.

Two days later O’Brien’s father passed away.

During police interview, O’Brien claimed that the money he had withdrawn was his and he had entrusted it to his father.

Defence counsel Mark Reel said his client was the ‘most unsuitable individual to have ever been entrusted with the management of accounts because of the deep set problems he had with alcohol and gambling’.

He said O’Brien used the money ‘entirely for gambling’ and there was no evidence he had any lavish lifestyle.

The barrister told the court that as a result of his behaviour, which he regrets, O’Brien has lost his family. He said that at the time of the offending, O’Brien became ‘obsessed’ with poker.

Mr Reel said the defendant ‘describes himself as sleep walking in that period of his life and he couldn’t keep up with anything outside of gambling’.The barrister revealed that in the last two years the defendant has not gambled or consumed alcohol.

Judge Philip Babington adjourned sentencing to allow him to ‘reflect’ on the case. O’Brien was released on continuing bail to appear in court again on Monday, June 13.