Friday, May 12, 2023

Declan Brennan

A home carer and self-described ‘psychic medium’ has denied deceiving two siblings out of €10,200 by telling them their deceased father told them to give her the money.

Debbie Paget, of Knowth Court, Ballymun, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of dishonestly by deception, inducing James Byrne and Maria Byrne to give two sums of cash, totalling €10,200.

In his evidence to the jury on Friday, James Byrne told Oisin Clarke BL, prosecuting, that he and his sister Maria and their mother lived together at Glendhu Road, Cabra, Dublin. He said Ms Paget was a home carer for a neighbour, which was how they got to know her.

He said on one occasion, Ms Paget invited him to “a reading” and he thought this was a fortune-telling during which he would find out about his future.

He said Ms Paget told him he might be touched on the shoulder by his late brother or father during the reading. “I said to myself, could this be true; but I never felt anything,” he told the jury.

He added Ms Paget started talking about his father, and said: “Your father said you are to give me €10,000.”

“She didn’t give any reason. I believed my father was telling me to give her €10,000,” he said, adding he felt pressurised during the reading and gave his word to give her the money.

If you don’t, it will be a sin and the devil will get you

Mr Byrne said the next day she came to his house, noting at that stage she was acting as a home carer for his sister who was recuperating from an accident.

He said he was thinking to himself: “Do I have to give her the money?” He added Ms Paget asked him: “When are you getting the money” and told him: “If you don’t, it will be a sin and the devil will get you.”

He told the court he later organised to withdraw €13,000 in cash from his bank account, and the next day when he saw Ms Paget at his home he gave her €10,000 in an envelope.

Asked why he gave her the money, Mr Bynre said: “I believed my father told her to tell me to give her the money, that’s what I believed.”

His sister also testified that she gave €200 to Ms Paget after the defendant told her during “a reading” that her deceased father had communicated with her and said Ms Byrne should give her €200.

The siblings first made a complaint to the woman’s employer and then later to gardaí.

When questioned, Ms Paget told gardaí she was publicly known as a “psychic medium”, which meant that she could “see beyond the veil” and communicate with the dead. She said she had offered this service to people for 40 years and had “never charged a penny” to anyone for it.

Denial

Asked if she had ever “got messages from the dead looking for money” she told gardaí: “No – sure what use is money to you when you’re dead?”

She denied that she ever did “a reading” for the Byrnes and denied that she got any money from either of them.

She said: “Are you winding me up? €10,000 for a reading? That’s a lie…is this a joke?” She added she never asked either complainant for money.

Ms Paget claimed the siblings “are after setting out to destroy my life”, claiming she lost her job over their complaints. Asked why the complainants might lie, she said: “I have no idea.”

Ms Paget later told gardaí that at one point she felt Ms Byrne did not need a carer any more and had suggested to Ms Byrne that she cancel the care package.

She said that after her dismissal, Mr Byrne told her that Ms Byrne later said to him: “Who does she think she f**king is, watch what I’m going to do to her.”

Ms Paget agreed that on two earlier occasions, Mr Byrne had gifted her a large flatscreen TV and, later, a chest freezer. She said she had not asked for either of these and when she tried not to accept the freezer, Mr Byrne insisted that she take it.

Under cross-examination from Karl Monaghan BL, defending, Mr Byrne accepted he had a previous conviction for sexual offences. Mr Byrne told Mr Monaghan: “I don’t think my past is relevant to this case. I’m not the one on trial.”

The trial continues before Judge Pauline Codd and a jury.

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