Psychic and sister found guilty of care home fraud say they are innocent and vow to clear their names
A high-profile psychic and his sister walked from court protesting their innocence of a fraud at a residential home for vulnerable adults.
Patrick Doak, who runs the Centre of Angels complex on Belfast's Falls Road, was jailed for a month, suspended for two years, on five charges of false accounting, while his sister Bridgene Kelly was fined a total of £400 on the two counts she was convicted of.
The 50-year-old, from Lagmore Meadows in Dunmurry, left Antrim Crown Court claiming he is the victim of a "witch-hunt", as his 55-year-old sister, with an address at Linden Gardens in north Belfast, told of her continued "shock and sadness" of being convicted of crimes of which she claimed she did not commit.
The false accounting charges, involving less than £100, date back over eight years to September 2006 when Doak was manager of the then St John of God-run Owenvale residential home, and his sister was a carer in the Springfield Road home.
Judge Gordon Kerr QC told the sibblings they had both been convicted by a jury following a trial, although they still did not accept their guilt. The judge told Doak he had been a manager of a centre designed and run for the benefit of vulnerable adults who stood to face a potential loss.
Judge Kerr said in his view such managers had a high duty of care where monies are entrusted to them on behalf of residents, and in this instance, Doak had fallen short in that duty, which to him was the most aggravating feature of the case.
However, given the low amount of monies involved and credit for his clear record, he would suspend his short jail term.
Turning to Doak's sister, the judge said that while in a position of some trust, she had been working under the control of a manager and that there was no suggestion she had benefited personally. Judge Kerr added that in her case the custody threshold had not been crossed and instead imposed the fine, which she was given three months to pay.
Prosecutor Robin Steer said that the monies amounted to £94.50 and involved five charges of false accounting on Doak's part and one each of false accounting and forgery on his sister's.
But Mr Steer said it was not the case that either had personally profited from their wrongdoing.
Defence lawyer Peter Sefton for Doak, described his offending as a "technical" in which there was no loss to any of the residents, although they did face a potential loss.
He added while there were multiple offences, they all related to the one day, with no suggestion he gained anything from them.
Kelly's defence lawyer Kevin O'Hare said she had a clear record and had gained nothing from the one-off offending.
Later outside court, in a written statement, she said: "I did not, nor would I ever attempt to falsify or cover-up any abuse of the elderly or vulnerable."
Maintaining that the money-sheet she "rewrote was to correct a clerical error", Mrs Kelly said: "I did nothing wrong during my employment at Owenvale. I loved my job as a carer and gave the residents 100%".
Her brother is president of the International Spiritualist Union, whose Centre of Angels' website reads: "Patrick Doak has been aware of spirits around him from a young age, and has practised as a medium and spiritual healer for many years." He has vowed to clear his name.
He said that he is to ask for his case to be reviewed by Criminal Cases Review Commission.