Bank staff have been praised for their role in detecting a forged cheque that had earlier been amended following a deal between two men and “an elderly, vulnerable farmer”.
A court heard how first cousins Thomas Kealy and Thomas Kealy sold a power washer to a farmer living near Timoleague in West Cork for €200, and then amended the amount to €2,100 before trying to cash it at the Clonakilty branch of Bank of Ireland shortly afterwards.
However, Clonakilty District Court was told that staff at the branch knew the farmer, and were instantly suspicious. They refused to hand it back and also took the licence plate number of the men’s vehicle, which was later stopped at a checkpoint once gardaí had been alerted.
Thomas Kealy of 1A Fairhill, Rathkeale, in Co Limerick and Thomas Kealy, of Long Bow Caravan Park, Main St, Miltown New Lark, in England, both pleaded guilty to one charge in relation to the incident and said they wished to apologise to the elderly farmer and to the court for actions described by Judge David Waters as “despicable”.
Thomas Kealy, with the UK address, has a date of birth of January 29, 1992, while his cousin’s date of birth is May 18, 1988.
Insp Fergal Foley, prosecuting, told the court on November 24 the Kealy cousins arrived unannounced in the yard of the farmer, who lives some miles outside the village of Timoleague.
Insp Foley said “a high pressure sales technique” ended in the farmer writing a cheque for €200 for the power washer.
It was alleged both men went to Clonakilty where the older Kealy cousin tendered the cheque to bank staff, now bearing the amount of €2,100.
However, knowing their client, they became suspicious and retained possession of the cheque. Both men left the bank and two bank officials went to the home of the farmer and gardaí were contacted. A bank official had also taken the licence plate number and the Kealys’ car was stopped at a checkpoint on the Clonakilty to Roascarbery road.
The Kealy cousins had been in custody since November 25.
Solicitor Myra Dinneen, defending, said the facts were as outlined by the prosecution and said: “It was not a nice thing to happen.”
“They stupidly wrote the cheque and stupidly went into the Bank of Ireland,” she said.
The younger Mr Kealy has a conviction for fraud handed down this year in Germany, while the older Mr Kealy had a previous conviction for deception which was committed in 2005.
Judge David Waters said the offences were at “the high end of the district court”.
Convicting both men, he sentenced the younger Thomas Kealy to three months in prison, backdated to November 24, for forging the cheque, and sentenced the older Thomas Kealy to two months, also backdated to November 24, for presenting it. Both men lodged appeals regarding the sentences.
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