A 79-year-old Cork woman was preyed upon by two Kerry men who quoted her €400 to repair her roof and then went on to get €11,000 in cash payments from her in “a very mean” crime.
Thomas Coffey, aged 54, and his nephew Patrick Coffey, aged 21, of Ballyspillane, Killarney, were at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for sentencing after stealing a total €11,000 from the woman living at College Rd, Cork, on July 28 last year.
The money was subsequently repaid in full and the two men came up with a further €1,500 each for the victim to compensate her for the wrong done.
Judge Séan Ó Donnabháin said: “This is a very mean type of offence. These two men preyed on an elderly vulnerable person in her own home on a continuous basis over a period of days, extracting increased amounts of money from her to a total of €11,000.”
Garda Michelle O’Leary said the theft of a total €11,000 was carried out over three days, from July 28 to 30.
The 79-year-old woman rang a number in the Golden Pages to have her roof repaired and got through to the two accused. They quoted her €400 for the work, only to go on and tell her it was a much more serious and expensive job than thought.
After getting a number of sums of cash from her, the victim was then driven to her local bank by a Lithuanian man at the request of the two Coffeys.
The bank notified the gardaí when it became suspicious of what might be happening; the woman had indicated that she wanted to withdraw €10,000 in cash.
She had intended paying the Coffeys more money and using some of it for other matters.
In the follow-up investigation, the roof was examined and found to have had only a minimal amount of work that was not done to a high standard.
Ray Boland and Sinead Behan, defending, said the two accused had co-operated fully with the investigation, paid back more than they stole, and had apologised.
The judge noted their pleas of guilty and the fact they paid back the money.
“The unfortunate lady does not have to come to court to give evidence and I am told she did not want to come to court,” he said.
“However, I view this case with such seriousness [that] I must consider custody. There must be a warning to others to deter them from this type of offence.”
The judge remanded both men in custody until April 20. “I will consider what to do with the balance of the sentence on that date,” he said.
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