Boston-based Irishman ends up in court over bet winnings

WHEN an Irishman living in Boston decided to withdraw some of his winnings from his Paddy Power online gambling account little did he know it would all end up in Fermoy District Court.

The court heard yesterday how a strange tale of dual nationalities, identical names and mistaken addresses ended with a €500 fine for theft.

Dual American and Irish citizen John Joseph O’Connor did not get the money he had requested from Paddy Power bookmaker to fund a holiday at home because, bizarrely, it went to a man with exactly the same name who lived on the same road which had been given as Mr O’Connor’s Irish address on his internet account application.

Mr O’Connor, aged 55, told the court he gave his nephew some money to set up the online betting account in Ireland in the spring of 2009 and would ring him on occasions to instruct him to place bets on horses, something he was rather successful at.

To coincide with his arrival home on holiday last July, Mr O’Connor told his nephew to get Paddy Power to send out a €500 cheque to the address at Limerick Road, Kildorrery, Co Cork.

The postman, however, delivered the cheque to another John Joseph O’Connor, who lived at No 4 Limerick Road, Kildorrery. Mr O’Connor immediately banked the cheque.

The Boston man’s nephew, Eamonn, had operated the account on his uncle’s behalf and asked the bookmaker to post the cheque to care of Eamonn’s brother, Willie O’Connor, at his Kildorrery Road address.

Paddy Power said it couldn’t post it to the care of Willie O’Connor but would send an envelope with John Joseph O’Connor’s name on it to the Limerick Road address in Kildorrery.

After a few days elapsed, Willie O’Connor, eventually went to the other John Joseph O’Connor who lived on the road and asked if he got a cheque he wasn’t expecting. The 35-year-old unemployed man said he had not.

But the Boston man’s relatives became suspicious and gardaí were called in. Detective Garda Shane Davern discovered that 35-year-old John Joseph O’Connor put the cheque through his AIB account and then made withdrawals from it.

At Fermoy District Court the 35-year-old defendant’s solicitor, John Hussey, argued that the money won by the Boston-based O’Connor had been obtained illegally as under US law online gambling was prohibited to people living there.

Paddy Power security manager, Gerard Mellinn, said he accepted the 55-year-old lucky punter lived in the US but added his company could not have known he was a US-based gambler as the online account was registered in Ireland, through Eircom.

Mr Hussey told Judge Olann Kelleher that because of this the case should be referred to the High Court for judgment.

Judge Kelleher said he would not direct it be forwarded to the higher court but told Mr Hussey he could pursue that avenue if he so wished.

Inspector Tony O’Sullivan repeatedly asked the defendant if he knew the cheque wasn’t for him.

He replied that he had gambled with Paddy Power on several occasions and thought one of his horses had won.

However, he later admitted that he had not seen any of them pass the winning post for the past three years.

Judge Kelleher convicted the defendant of theft and ordered him to pay €500 compensation to his Boston-based namesake. He also fined him €500.


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