Midwife who admitted money laundering challenges HSE dismissal decision
A midwife convicted of a money laundering offence has brought a High Court challenge against the HSE's decision to dismiss her from employment.
The action has been taken by Samantha Sinnott, a midwife at Wexford General Hospital, who 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 on May 16, 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 children admitted that on September 22, 2018 she moved over €100,000 from her partner's house in Slevoy, Foulksmills, Wexford, where she was living to a nearby property that she owned.
In a sworn statement to the court, she claimed she did so in a panic after hearing on the radio that gardaí had arrested men in the town, because she was worried that she and the children might get in trouble.
She said that she had never been in trouble before, and fully co-operated with the gardaí and made a full admission in regards the incident. She claims she kept her employers fully informed about the charge and her guilty plea.
In the period in 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 provided her with references for the criminal case, she claims.
Following her sentencing last February, Ms Sinnott of Ballymitty, New Ross, County Wexford returned to work and updated her superiors in relation to the criminal proceedings.
She carried out her duties, and said it was never indicated to her that there was any process where her position was being considered.
She claims that 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 nor offered a chance to present anything to her employer.
Following a hearing that occurred last June, the HSE informed her that was being dismissed due to the serious nature of her criminal conviction.
She claims in her statement that the matter was pre-judged and was decided on by a HSE official who had pre-knowledge of her situation and should not have heard the matter.
Given that she had continued to work post her plea of guilty, she said she had a legitimate expectation that she would retain her employment.
She claims that there has never been any issue with her performance as a midwife. She also claims that she has referred herself to the Nursing and Midwifery Board.
As a result of her dismissal, she has brought High Court judicial review proceedings against the HSE where she seeks an order quashing her employer's decision to dismiss her from her job.
She also seeks declarations from the court including that the decision to dismiss her was unreasonable, irrational, disproportionate, and in breach of her rights under the constitution and the ECHR.
Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Charles Meenan. The matter was made returnable to a date in December.