A MAN stole from the rural West Limerick home of 89-year-old twin brothers on a number of occasions earlier this year after he posed as an ESB official in order to gain access to their house, a court has heard.
Judge Mary Larkin described the actions of 25-year-old Dermot O’Brien of Churchtown View, Churchtown, Newcastle West as “despicable” at Newcastle West Court, where O’Brien pleaded guilty to a number of burglary charges.
The court heard that the accused was caught when gardai, having been made aware of the thefts, installed hidden cctv cameras in the brothers’ home at Knockdromin, Croagh this January.
Insp Paul Reidy said O’Brien, posing as an ESB worker, entered the brothers’ home on a number of occasions in January, and each time he “searched the premises” and “took a small amount of cash”.
Insp Reidy said that after the gardai were alerted to suspicious activity at the rural home, they installed hidden cctv inside the house with the owners’ permission.
The court heard that O’Brien subsequently returned to the home on a number of occasions and was captured on cctv each time searching through the victims’ possessions.
Insp Reidy said that on the camera footage it was “clearly evident what he was getting up to”, searching clothes and personal belongings.
The court heard that over the course of the burglaries, O’Brien only managed to steal a total of €70.
O’Brien pleaded guilty to charges of burglary on January 10, 12 and 26 this year, while similar charges relating to January 5, 6, 14 and 25 were withdrawn by the State.
The court heard that O’Brien has one previous theft conviction, which was handed down in Ennis District Court in July 2011, and his only other convictions relate to road traffic matters.
Solicitor Michael O’Donnell, defending, said that there was “no forced entry” or “roughing about” of the elderly men by O’Brien, and that the burglaries were opportunistic.
Judge Mary Larkin said that the accused’s actions were “despicable”. Mr O’Donnell said that his client was sorry and wishes “he could turn back the clock”.
The court heard that O’Brien “was living kind of rough” at the time, having been evicted from his home in Newcastle West.
O’Brien is a married father-of-one whose only source of income is social welfare. He handed over €100 in compensation to the victims in court.
Judge Larkin said that O’Brien’s offences “merits a custodial sentence”, as “fewer members of society are more vulnerable” than the elderly. She ordered that O’Brien’s suitability for 100 hours of community service be assessed, and she warned that the alternative will be three months in prison.
Sentencing was adjourned until November 22.