Turn Key Ventures Ltd, trading as Russell’s Bar, was fined €4,000 for tampering with an electricity meter in 2017
A JUDGE has said that people’s lives were “at risk” after an electricity meter was tampered with at a popular restaurant and bar in Limerick, resulting in more than €11,000 worth of unpaid electricity being used.
Turn Key Ventures Ltd, trading as Russell’s Bar, appeared before Judge Marian O’Leary last Friday afternoon, accused of removing wires from an electricity meter in June 2017.
The company was charged with interfering with an article belonging to the ESB, under Section 15 of the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995.
ESB inspector Keith McCarthy told Limerick District Court that the act as “unacceptable” and that there was a safety risk for staff, members of the public and emergency services.
He said that a total of 78,095 units of electricity were used, amounting to €11,290.04, which has since been repaid, the judge was told.
Judge O’Leary asked defending solicitor John Herbert how many staff did his client have, and she was then informed “30”.
“People’s lives at risk,” the judge said.
Mr Herbert said that the “embarrassment is palpable...the sheer ridiculousness of it all” and told Judge O’Leary that “it won’t happen again”.
Prosecuting solicitor Aileen Mee said the penalty is a maximum six-month prison sentence and a class-A fine not exceeding €5,000 and not less than €4,000. The inspector, however, told Judge O’Leary that it was at her discretion.
The judge asked Mr Herbert: “Tell me why your client should not get jail for this?”
Mr Herbert said the offence occurred “in the face of financial difficulty” and “it just shows the blind stupidity that it can cause”. He added that it was “thoughtless”.
“It beggars belief,” Judge O’Leary said to Mr Herbert.
“The price is being paid now and he is facing the threat of jail,” Mr Herbert told the court.
Judge O’Leary fined the accused €4,000, which is to be paid within eight months.