A FIFTY-SIX year-old widower received six months in prison for not removing dormer windows from his home.
At Kilmallock court, Judge Mary Larkin said Harold O’Toole has been “deliberately walking around this for six years”. Asked by Mr O’Toole’s solicitor, Paul Cagney, to suspend the sentence she said it would “prolong the issue and flouting of the law”.
The long running prosecution taken by Cork County Council over illegal building work at Mr O’Toole’s home at Beechwood Drive, Ballycoskery, Ballyhea dates back to 2006.
In July, Mr O’Toole spent five nights in jail after Judge Mary O’Halloran remanded him in custody.
He gave an undertaking to take out the dormer windows by October after his solicitor said it “gave him a lesson regards what awaits him”.
Ronan MacKernan, executive planner with the council, said he had visited the site last week and the dormer windows remain in place.
“In 2006 we received a complaint from the public. Mr O’Toole applied to convert his attic and put projecting dormer windows on the front and back of it. Cork County Council gave planning permission for the dormer windows at the back, but to omit them from the front and put in roof light windows.
“Despite repeated warnings and considerable goodwill by the council extended to him to remove the dormer windows he hasn’t. He stated to me on a number of occasions he had no intention of removing the windows,” said Mr MacKernan, who added that Mr O’Toole is also constructing a substantial structure intended to be a bungalow in his rear garden.
Representing the council, Patricia Duff said it was the eight time it has been before the courts and the court enforcement order dates back to June 2009.
O’Toole’s solicitor. Paul Cagney said he had even gone with a builder to the house to get an estimate.
“He has a bizarre understanding of the law. He has been jailed over the matter but it makes no difference,” said Mr Cagney.
Mr O’Toole took the stand and said he believed he had the authority signed by a chief planner to put in the dormer windows.
Mr Cagney asked him why he didn’t remove them?
“I don’t have the finances,” he said.
Mr Cagney said it was a difficult case compounded by Mr O’Toole’s addiction.
“His good intentions are gone tomorrow. If he puts money away every week he will drink it. He is in receipt of social welfare,” said Mr Cagney.
Judge Larkin imposed a six month prison sentence on Mr O’Toole and fined him a total of €3,000 for not complying with the enforcement order to remove the dormer windows.
Costs of €2,726 were also awarded against him.
Recognaissance was fixed.