A COUNTY Limerick man who conned €3,200 from a pensioner suffering from Parkinson’s disease was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Patrick O’Brien, aged 31, of Hill View, Abbeyfeale pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to theft and attempted theft on June 13 and 14, 2012 at an address in Dalkey, County Dublin.
Imposing sentence, Judge Mary Ellen Ring said O’Brien had gained money under false pretences by putting on a “considerable charm act”. for the injured party.
She noted that the father-of-one has previous convictions for similar “nasty” offences and that some of his other victims were also elderly.
Judge Ring said O’Brien had taken advantage of people using “fictional work” and that the offences represented “an invasion of people’s homes”.
Garda Declan Hartley told Cormac Quinn BL, prosecuting, that the victim, John Moynihan, had been taking his dog for a walk near his house in Dalkey at about midday when a white van pulled up alongside him.
O’Brien and an older man asked Mr Moynihan where Number 77 was, and he told them there was no house by that number.
They then asked Mr Moynihan if he owned the first house in the estate and when he replied that he did, they told him there was a problem with the alignment of his roof tiles.
When Mr Moynihan returned home at 3pm, the men were waiting a at the house and offered to fix his tiles for €15.
They informed the pensioner they had ladders for the job as they were working in the locality, which is why it would be so cheap.
Mr Moynihan, the court heard, then told the men to go ahead with the work. The older man then produced a length of plastic to go under the tiles, which he said would prevent rotting on the roof.
He said it would cost €26 per foot and they informed Mr Moynihan they would need around 10 feet of plastic. Mr Moynihan stayed outside for a while and then took O’Brien inside for a cup of tea.
The older man came in after a while and said the work would cost €320, to which O’Brien replied, “You must be joking” and said the bill was actually €3,200.
When Mr Moynihan protested that the men had only worked for ten minutes, they said they had solved a major problem and that “nothing comes cheap”.
Mr Moynihan felt bullied and said he had no cash, so the men reluctantly accepted a cheque.
He said he felt under pressure to let the men write the cheque and that the atmosphere was “very tense”.
Mr Moynihan signed the cheque with a very shaky signature and the name of the payee was filled in later by the men as being “Stephen Wright”.
Garda Hartley said Mr Moynihan was very frail and vulnerable with very bad shakes and he added that he falls down on occasion.
The following day, the men turned up at Mr Moynihan’s house and said the cheque was not lodged and it was important that they got cash.
Mr Moynihan offered them €500 to get them out of the place but said he would have to go out and get the cash.
On his way to get the money, Mr Moynihan met his wife who reported the matter to gardaí.
An attempt was made to stop the cheque but it was too late, and Mr and Mrs Moynihan remain at a loss of €3,200. A roofer subsequently examined the property and said no work had been done on the tiles.
Gardaí later arrested O’Brien after arranging to meet him. He initially said he had been calling to Mr Moynihan’s house to wash windows, but later admitted he had gone there to con him out of €3,200.
Michael Bowman BL, representing Mr O’Brien, pointed out that Mr Moynihan had been unable to identify his client but that he had made full admissions.
He said O’Brien is married with a young child and is not working or receiving social welfare.
Judge Ring imposed a three year prison sentence backdating it to April 1, last.