Gardaí found missing man 'crying and in his slippers', court hears, as son gets bail

Gardaí found missing man 'crying and in his slippers', court hears, as son gets bail
James O'Connor.

A man charged in connection with the abduction of his 80-year old father, and stealing his savings, was granted bail today, despite strenuous objections from gardaí, writes David Raleigh.

Evidence during a bail hearing heard, gardaí responding to a 999 alert about a possible kidnapping, discovered missing person Jimmy O'Connor, "crying" and "in his slippers" in his son's car, approximately 125km from his Limerick home.

Detective Garda Brian Culbert, Roxboro Road, alleged the accused, James O'Connor, (40), was an "unpredictable and dangerous individual".

The accused, with an address at Edward Street, Limerick, is alleged to have stolen over €8,000 of his father's pension and credit union savings.

Limerick District Court heard that Jimmy O'Connor, (80), was reported missing by a concerned family member on May 29 last.

Detective Culbert, said five days later gardaí in Portloaise informed him they had found Mr O'Connor snr "crying and wearing his slippers" in his son's car, outside the Gandon Inn.

"When gardaí spoke to Jim O'Connor he informed them he was being held captive and that his credit union account had been cleared out," Dtc Gda Culbert said.

Gardaí "observed food and blankets" in the accused's car, which was seized as part of the garda investigation, the court heard.

Detective Culbert alleged the accused kept his father at a number of different locations in the State, and that Mr O'Connor was "not allowed" contact his daughter.

He alleged the accused brought his father to an apartment in Mountmelkick, Co Laois, for a period of 12 days.

Gardaí said they were compiling corroborating evidence from independent witnesses and CCTV footage.

Detective Culbert alleged "abusive and threatening" text messages were sent from the accused's mobile phone to members of his family, in which demands were made for Mr O'Connor's bank card.

Detective Culbert said two family members had "fled their homes" and gone to stay with relatives in the US, as they were "terrified" of the accused.

The garda said he believed that, if granted bail, the accused would "interfere with witnesses"; "commit further similar serious offences"; and failed to appear in court later on.

Solicitor Darach McCarthy said his client was entitled to the presumption of innocence and he would abide by any conditions of bail.

"He wants to look after the family pet dog and get on with his life. He has responsibilities," Mr McCarthy said.

Despite garda objections, judge Mary Larkin granted bail on the accused's own bond of €300, and an independent surety of €6,000 of which €4,000 was to be lodged with the court.

The accused was remanded to appear before the court again on June 27, for directions from the DPP.

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