A former Health Service Executive employee who pleaded guilty to eight counts of theft amounting to over €55,000 has received a two-year suspended jail sentence at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

53-year-old David Cooper, with an address at an apartment at 7 Southern Road, Cork, had also pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted theft of €107,000.

Cooper was an employee at St Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital in Cork at the time. 

Two private contractors to the HSE also had money stolen from them but they were since compensated.

The court was told that when first questioned by gardaí in the summer of 2012, Cooper had picked up a sharp metal envelope opener from a desk and stabbed himself in the neck with it. 

He was admitted to hospital for a few days for psychiatric attention after this incident.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Cooper had been in charge of payments to builders undertaking work for the HSE and the crime was detected because of the thefts and attempted thefts over a four-month period represented more than the total annual budget for this particular section of the HSE in Cork.

Defence barrister Sinead Behan said her client was under a lot of pressure at the time of the offences and had debts amounting to over €70,000 from various loans.

Cooper wept as the judge suspended the two-year sentence in its entirely.

A term of the suspension is that an expected lump sum pension payment to Cooper from the HSE in the region of €30,000 is to be paid back to the HSE towards the losses.