A chronic alcoholic who fraudulently used a genuine bank account while posing as the account owner has been sentenced to three years in prison at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Patricia Ryan.
Thomas Farrell (aged 51), lodged two cheques into the AIB account in Tallaght in March and April 2001 after altering the payee name to that of the account holder. He then returned to the branch days later and withdrew the cash over a number of days while using the account holder's bank card.
Farrell with an address at South Circular Road, Rialto, pleaded guilty to handling the stolen bank card and three charges of fraudulently withdrawing £16,000 from the account on dates in April 2001. The account holder had noticed that his card was missing from his wallet in February that year.
Judge Ryan said that it was a serious offence and noted that Farrell had 62 previous convictions, spanning over 30 years, for similar offences of theft and fraud.
She accepted that he had made attempts in the past to deal with his addiction and suspended the last year of the sentence on account of his plea of guilty and his "exemplary behaviour" in custody as stated in a prison governor's report.
Detective Garda Paul Smith told Mr Dominic McGinn BL, prosecuting, that Farrell was nominated as a suspect after gardai obtained CCTV footage from the bank and liaised with the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.
He was interviewed in June 2001 where he denied knowing the account holder but relied on his right to silence for the duration of questioning.
He was not charged until February 2004 and a warrant issued for his arrest when he failed to appear for a court hearing in December 2005. This was not executed until last month when he was remanded in custody.
Det Gda Smith agreed with Mr Luigi Rea BL, defending, that Farrell made no attempt to disguise himself and that he had a chronic alcohol addiction at the time.
He accepted that Farrell was quite a passive and pleasant man when he was not under the influence of alcohol.
Mr Rea told Judge Ryan that his client was now "afflicted by medical conditions over and above his alcoholism" and he now knew that if he wanted any kind of life with his partner on his release from prison he needed to deal with his addiction.