Donegal Pens, set up by brothers Conor and Rónán McGarvey in Co Donegal, has been a huge success in recent years.
The pens, made from reclaimed bog oak and other woods, are used by famous people around the globe including former US President Barack Obama, Daniel O’Donnell, Gay Byrne, President Michael D Higgins and Joe Duffy.
Dungloe District Court heard that the boys’ uncle used a stolen bank card to withdraw cash from their business.
Brendan Sweeney, from Burtonport but with an address at Cloghan, Co Donegal, appeared charged with stealing €860 from the boys’ business.
The father of three was charged with theft using a bank card belonging to young entrepreneur Conor McGarvey, 15, and his brother Rónán, 18, and withdrawing money at a number of ATMs in various locations across Donegal. The court heard money was taken from a number of ATMs in Dungloe, Glenties, and Letterkenny in August 2015.
Sweeney stole the bank card from his nephew’s wallet after he accidentally dropped the wallet in Sweeney’s car on the way to a football match.
It was only a few days later that the thefts were discovered when the injured party’s brother, Rónán McGarvey, went to use his bank card, attached to the same bank account, and the transaction was declined. When the brothers checked the account online they discovered the thefts. Gardaí were notified and an investigation was launched. Gardaí got CCTV footage of Sweeney using the stolen bank card.
The court heard that the defendant made no effort over the two years to pay the money back to the injured party. However, his solicitor, Cormac Hartnett previously handed €700 in to the court and said the balance would be paid at yesterday’s court sitting. He then handed in a further €500 to court — making an overall payment of €1,200 to the Donegal Pen boys.
He added that the theft was always “destined to fail”, saying his client had been short of money to pay his car insurance.
“He used the card in an opportunist fashion to serve his own needs,” said Mr Hartnett, adding that there had been a “huge breach of trust.”
Sweeney, who has previous convictions for theft and motoring offences, was the subject of an arrest warrant earlier this year when he failed to appear in court on the theft charges.
Conor McGarvey previously told the court Sweeney had never apologised for his actions.
Judge Paul Kelly asked what relations are like in the family at the moment.
Conor McGarvey replied: “Not good.”
Judge Kelly then asked: “You have got over the trauma caused by this particular incident?” He asked the injured party how the pen business is going and Conor Mc Garvey replied that it is “going well”.
“It’s going well and business is now booming,” added Mr McGarvey.
Judge Kelly wished him and the business well in the future. He found Sweeney guilty of theft at Sharkey’s Shop in Dungloe on August 9 and ordered Sweeney to keep the peace for 12 months on his own bond of €250.