No jail for young gambling addict who stole €42,000 earmarked for homeless in Cork

A young woman addicted to gambling has made false claims for €42,500 in payments to relieve homelessness and she has now been given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Judge Helen Boyle said: ‘This was a deliberate theft which took money from state coffers which should have provided housing for homeless people. You haven’t repaid anything, so the state is still at a loss.

Nora Cremin, of The Funchion, River Valley, Mallow, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to 43 counts of theft which were in fact fraud in Cork Circuit Criminal Court. The judge considered mitigating factors, including actual homelessness before these offenses occurred and steps taken to address his gambling addiction since.


Garda John Dineen said the background to the case was that in November 2018 the accused was dealing with a social worker in North Cork and presented as homeless.

She was considered a person with exceptional needs and qualified to receive exceptional needs payments. The scheme operated on the basis of the claimant paying hotel bills for emergency accommodation.

Over a period of 10 months, she provided fraudulent invoices appearing to show she had been accommodated at the Ashley Hotel and the Metropole Hotel in Cork when in fact she had not.

The invoices she provided were for sums ranging from €150 to €1,490. She submitted invoices totaling more than €11,000 for the Ashley and €31,000 for the Métropole. The fraud was discovered during an audit, Det. said Garda Dineen.

Unable to return money

The detective believed there was no prospect that the accused could repay what she had taken. Donal O’Sullivan, defending, said she had completed a long period of treatment.

He said she had not attracted attention since these crimes were detected. However, she had previous convictions, including four for theft and a number of public order offenses and two for assault.

Mr O’Sullivan said the thefts were detected during an office audit and these transactions stood out to the auditor. He said the elephant in the room was that the defendant simply wouldn’t be able to pay for what she took.

Judge Boyle said the fraudulent escapade led by the defendant had the effect of considerably tightening the system for disbursing this emergency aid.

“You were actually homeless, but you were staying on sofas with friends and demanding hotel stays.

“You cooperated in every way. It is a particularly pernicious addiction. You don’t have to show anything for your flights. You have completed residential drug treatment and are in aftercare. You have never served a prison sentence,” the judge said as she imposed a full suspended prison sentence.

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