Midwife convicted of money laundering offence challenges her dismissal by HSE
Woman says she kept her employers fully informed of the charge and her guilty plea
A midwife convicted of a money laundering offence has brought a High Court challenge against the HSE’s decision to dismiss her from her employment.
Samantha Sinnott, a midwife at Wexford General Hospital, claims the HSE sacked her after she received a 12-month suspended prison sentence from Wexford Circuit Criminal Court last February.
She had previously pleaded guilty in May 16th, 2019 to one count of money laundering contrary to section 7 of the 2010 Criminal Justice Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act.
The 41-year-old mother of five admitted that, on September 22nd 2018, she had moved a sum of more than €100,000 from her partner’s house in Slevoy, Foulksmills, Wexford, where she was living, to a nearby property owned by her.
In an affidavit, she said she did so “in a panic” after hearing on the radio gardaí had arrested men in the town because she was worried she and the children might get in trouble. She said she had never been in trouble before, fully co-operated with gardaí and made a full admission in regard to the incident.
She also said she kept her employers fully informed about the charge and her guilty plea.
In the period between her plea and her sentencing, she said she continued to work, was given a new contract of employment from the HSE and was promoted. The HSE also provided her with references for the criminal case, she said.
Following her sentencing last February, Ms Sinnott, of Ballymitty, New Ross, returned to work and said she updated her superiors in relation to the criminal proceedings.
She carried out her duties and it was never indicated to her there was any process where her position was being considered, she said.
She claims, arising out of the publication of her case in the local media, the HSE told her not to return to work and internal disciplinary proceedings were brought against her. She claims that process was flawed as the HSE never commenced any investigative process, she was never interviewed or offered a chance to present anything to her employer. Following a hearing last June, the HSE informed her she was being dismissed due to the serious nature of her criminal conviction.
She claims the matter was pre-judged and decided on by a HSE official who had prior knowledge of her situation and should not have heard the matter.
Given that she had continued to work after her plea of guilty, she had a legitimate expectation that she would retain her employment, it is claimed. She claims there has never been any issue with her performance as a midwife and she has referred herself to the Nursing and Midwifery Board.
In judicial review proceedings against the HSE, she wants orders quashing the dismissal decision and declarations the decision was unreasonable, irrational, disproportionate, and in breach of her rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights .
Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Charles Meenan who returned the matter to December.