Monday, December 5 2022

“It’s just sickening to think that someone would target an elderly person. I don’t know how people can do these things”

Jessica Brennan’s 37-year-old victim, Nora Clarke, died before a total of 46 incidents of her bank account being stolen were discovered.

Sligo mother-of-three Brennan was released from court on a suspended sentence last week after the court heard she acted in desperation to pay off drug debts totaling €20,000.

Approached by the Sunday world At her home in Caltragh Crescent, Sligo this week, Brennan refused to discuss her crimes with this newspaper.

When asked if there was anything she wanted to say to Nora’s family, she replied, “goodbye” before closing the door to her house and heading inside.

A neighbor of victim Nora Clarke, who lived near Crozens Downs, this week described the elderly pensioner as ‘a quiet-talking woman who enjoyed tending to the roses in her front garden’.

“Nora was a very quiet and reserved woman, but we were all very sad when she passed away,” she said.

“It’s just sickening to think that someone would target an elderly person. I don’t know how people can do these things.

Details of how Brennan stole the funds by trusting Nora’s account were detailed at Sligo Circuit Court.

Judge Keenan Johnson heard Brennan took the elderly woman’s ATM card and made a number of withdrawals over a seven-week period in the summer of 2019.

The offense only stopped when the card was kept in an ATM and after Nora’s brother Joe reported it stolen.

Brennan had incurred a drug debt due to her cocaine addiction, while she also owed money to a pawnbroker.

She admitted six out of 46 counts relating to thefts of various sums of money from Nora Clarke, whose death the court heard on July 17, 2019 without knowing that she had been the victim of theft.

At the time, Brennan would call Nora’s home at least once a day.

A probation report assessed Brennan as being at moderate risk for reoffending.

Detective Inspector Ray Mulderrig how, after the ATM card was reported stolen by Nora’s brother, kept liaising with the Bank of Ireland and receiving account statements.

They then checked CCTV footage at the time of the removals and a woman was identified as Brennan

During an interview, she explained how she would receive money to buy groceries and was given an ATM card and PIN.

Detective Inspector Ray Mulderrig said the defendant made a full and candid confession.

She said she owed money to many people in the city and had a debt of around €20,000 resulting from her cocaine use.

Judge Johnson imposed a sentence of two years and six months but suspended it for five years on the condition that Brennan maintain public order for five years and be supervised by the probation service for 12 months.

He also ordered that she remain drug-free for five years and report for a urinalysis upon request.

He ordered that she repay €16,500 to Nora Clarke’s estate to include payment of the €2,300 she had with her in court, another €10,200 by January 10 and the final €4,000 of here on December 31, 2023.

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