Jailed for stealing £30,000 from father

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

A man who stole £30,000 from his father did not leave any money to pay for his dad’s funeral, it has been revealed.

Martin O’Brien received a determinate sentence of one year at Derry Crown Court yesterday. Half of this sentence will be spent in custody, with the remaining half spent on licence.

O’Brien, of Rossnagalliagh Park, admitted stealing £30,000 from his 75-year-old father, who had dementia and had suffered a number of strokes.

The money was stolen over a three year period from July 2010.

Speaking after the sentencing, O’Brien’s sister, Flo Morgan told the ‘Journal’ her brother ‘deserved’ a prison sentence.

She said that O’Brien did not leave any money in their father’s bank account to pay for his funeral.

Ms Morgan said: ‘What he did was disgraceful. It is heartbreaking. We lost a father and a brother at the same time and he has shown no remorse.

‘It was never about the money for us, it is about the deceit. Our brother can write all these plays but can’t bring himself to write a letter of apology to us’.

Derry Crown Court heard that the 55-year-old took control of his father’s finances after hid dad was moved into residential care.

At the time his father had three accounts with a total of £30,000 lodged in them.

O’Brien withdrew all but £29 of the money and used it to feed his gambling habit.

The father’s health deteriorated and he was moved to hospital, It was then that O’Brien admitted to his sister that all the money was gone.

Two days later their father died and the court heard there was ‘no contact between the siblings whist their father lay dying and during the subsequent wake and funeral’.

Defence counsel Mark Reel claimed his client was a ‘most unsuitable individual’ to look after his father’s finances because of his history of gambling and alcohol abuse.

Jailing O’Brien, Judge Philip Babington said it was a ‘clear breach of trust case’ and O’Brien’s siblings ‘trusted him to do this work’.

The judge added that the 55-year-old’s ‘late father really knew nothing about what he had done, but presumably any wishes expressed in his will were essentially thwarted’.

Judge Babington said the court did not know who would have benefitted from the estate but it was ‘clear that the money should never have been taken in the first place’.