A home carer and “psychic medium” has been convicted of deceiving a man out of €10,000 by telling him his deceased father had told her he should give her the money.
Debbie Paget (56), of Knowth Court, Ballymun, Dublin, was on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court charged with dishonestly inducing by deception James Byrne to give her €10,000. She was also charged with dishonestly inducing by deception Maria Byrne to give her €200.
She had pleaded not guilty to both offences. After deliberating for a little over four hours, the jury found Paget guilty, by a majority, of the first count and returned a not guilty verdict on the second count.
Judge Pauline Codd remanded Paget on continuing bail to July 10th for a sentence hearing. She thanked the jury for its service. “It was a highly unusual case. We appreciate the work you have done,” she said.
In his evidence, 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 Paget was a home carer for a neighbour, which was how they came to know her.
He said on one occasion, Paget invited him to “a reading” and he thought this was a fortune-telling, and he would find out about his future. He said during the session Paget started talking about his father and then told him: “Your father said you are to give me €10,000.”
He said that he felt pressured and gave his word to give her the money.
If you don’t, it will be a sin and the devil will get you
He added that Paget then 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 said he later gave her €10,000 in cash in an envelope after withdrawing it from his bank account.
Asked why he gave her the money, Mr Byrne told the jury: “I believed my father told her to tell me to give her the money, that’s what I believed.”
His sister testified that she gave €200 to Paget after the defendant told her during “a reading” that her deceased father had communicated with her and said that Ms Byrne should give her the money.
The siblings first made a complaint to the woman’s employer and then later to gardaí.
When questioned, Paget told gardaí that 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.
She denied that she ever did “a reading” for the complainants and denied that she got any money from either of them. She said she never asked either complainant for money and said she had no idea why either of them would lie.
Paget told gardaí that at one point she felt Ms Byrne no longer needed a carer, adding she 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.”