December 4, 2022

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A former staff member at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, who fraudulently used a company credit card to make more than €22,000 in personal purchases, has avoided a jail term.

Gerard Russell (55), of New Park Road, Blackrock, pleaded guilty to six counts of theft and deception on dates between August 2014 and June 2015. An audit was carried out after transactions of a “domestic and personal nature” raised a red flag. A large number of items were delivered to the hospital and some were recovered from his home.

Russell has no previous convictions. There was no victim impact statement before the court. The total amount involved was €22,353 and Russell had this available to the court.

Judge Martin Nolan said Russell had stolen from his employer and while the amount involved was quite low compared to other cases, the breach of trust was serious.

He took into account Russell’s co-operation, guilty pleas and absence of a criminal record. He said Russell was unlikely to reoffend. He noted the letters from people who know him portraying him in a very good light. He said he also had the benefit of a psychological report.

Judge Nolan said he did not think a prison term would be just and imposed a three-year suspended sentence. He ordered the amount of €22,353 be transferred to St Vincent’s within one week.

Receipts found

Garda Aidan Coffey told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that Russell had worked as a purchasing and procurement manager at St Vincent’s Hospital. He said after a number of receipts were found in a box in his office, an audit was performed and certain transactions were identified.

He said Russell had used a credit card that was supposed to be used to buy items needed for the hospital. Staff confirmed they had received deliveries in his name to the hospital. The transactions were for items that were domestic and personal in nature so raised a red flag.

As well as a large number of items delivered to the hospital, 19 items were found at his home.

Garda Collins agreed with Giollaiosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that Russell’s wife had written a letter in which she outlined that once he had conquered alcoholism in 2013, he replaced that addiction with another in relation to spending money on small purchases. She wrote that Russell was a kind man who was an addict. Other family members also wrote letters.

Mr Russell wrote a letter of apology taking responsibility for his actions and expressing remorse. Counsel said his client had suffered depression and mental health issues following the death of his mother and managed to conquer his alcoholism in 2013. He has a bipolar diagnosis, is on medication and has undergone counselling.

He submitted there were exceptional circumstances in this case and said the offending fits with a pattern of mental health issues rather than a greed issue. He said Russell had a history which goes to explain his addiction and “messed-up thought processes”.

He said Russell has lost his job and suffered public humiliation.

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