82-year-old forced to pay €17,500 for €400 job

An 82-year-old man, living alone, was inveigled into paying €17,500 to a workman for a job that cost no more than €400.

Yesterday, the culprit was jailed for what the judge described as a cruel crime.

Patrick O’Brien, aged 37, of 122 Ballyspillane, Killarney, Co Kerry, was sentenced to three years of imprisonment, with half of it suspended, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

As well as the scam carried out on the 82-year-old man, in the Mallow area, O’Brien also admitted deceiving two women out of smaller amounts in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “This man is before the court on three deception charges.

“It is a deeply despicable type of crime to go along and exploit people living alone, who are elderly, and extract money from them — €17,500 to put something on a roof that would not cost €500.”

The judge said the victim was left wondering how he could ever trust someone calling to his door in the future.

“This is a really cruel type of crime,” the judge said.

Brendan Kelly, defending, said the accused man pleaded guilty and paid back all of the monies in full.

In respect of the man in Mallow, he paid more, bringing to €18,500 the total he paid.

Detective Garda Padraig Reddington said that in Dungarvan, the man posed as an auctioneer and offered to do jobs costing €300 and €1,800 for the two women. The work was never done.

Mr Kelly said the accused had been in prison since last November and had found the experience difficult.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said O’Brien got chances previously, with suspended sentences, on nine previous deception charges.

The judge said that despite these opportunities, given to the accused by the courts, he had not taken the chances given to him and had to be sentenced now.

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