A gambling addict duped an acquaintance out of every euro of the €56,000 he inherited from his late mother in an elaborate two-year scam.
But now the gambler claimed he tried to combat his addiction by closing his Boyle Sports account a number of times during this period but each time they sent him a €50 free bet and he ended up gambling again.
Judge Helen Boyle remanded 48-year-old Thomas O’Connell in custody until June 30 for sentencing at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. Detective Garda Stephen Fuller investigated the case and gave details of the scam carried out by O’Connell of 14 Redbarn Cottages, Youghal, County Cork, who is originally from Cork city.
Facing 260 charges of theft by deception, he pleaded guilty to a series of sample counts on the indictment against him. Det. Garda Fuller said the 260 thefts were carried out between January 16, 2017, and January 17, 2019.
The 66-year-old victim came to Cork city about 20 years ago and met Thomas O’Connell through work.
Det. Garda Fuller said: “Following the death of his mother she left him €56,000 and Thomas O’Connell began to approach him for loans. He gave them to him but he returned looking for further loans on a regular basis. The understanding was that they would be repaid.
“The victim provided him with his account details to facilitate repayment of loans.” However, he then began a scam through which he effectively kept taking the victim’s money until it was all gone.
O’Connell telephoned his victim, pretending to be a prominent Cork solicitor who was informing him that he and O’Connell were under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau and that if the payments did not continue to two accounts set up by Thomas O’Connell, then CAB would move against him (the victim of the scam).
The solicitor had no knowledge that he was being impersonated in this manner about an entirely fictitious CAB investigation until the end of the two-year period. The victim telephoned the solicitor’s office to inform him he could not continue making the payments.
The solicitor invited him to attend his office and informed him that he appeared to have been conned and that the victim had never been contacted by the solicitor and he should contact An Garda Síochána immediately. He did, and so did the solicitor.
It was established that the two accounts, to which the payments totalling €56,000 were made, were a personal bank account and a Boyle Sports account, both in Thomas O’Connell’s name. The payments varied from €100 to €1000 and averaged at just over €200.
“Contact was almost on a daily basis – sometimes a couple of times on a particular day. He admitted that he took €56,000 and impersonated (the solicitor),” Det. Garda Fuller said. O’Connell was actually a client of the solicitor he impersonated. The defendant had a gambling and alcohol addiction.
The phone calls and texts – supposedly from the solicitor - to the victim were a work of fiction by 48-year-old Thomas O’Connell who did not stop until he got his hands on every euro of the €56,000 the victim had inherited.
Detective Garda Fuller said the victim is a shy man who did not want to make a victim impact statement and was happy to leave the matter in the hands of An Garda Síochána. Asked: “Has he received a penny back?” the detective said he had not.
In terms of the defendant’s addictions, the detective said that on the morning he arrested the accused at his home he was drinking from a can of beer at 10am.
Defence senior counsel Ray Boland said: “He closed his Boyle Sports account a number of times. But when he closed that account, Boyle Sports sent him a free €50 bet to encourage him to reopen the account.”
Det. Garda Fuller was aware of this and said: “He did close his account a number of times but he was given a €50 free bet that brought him into gambling again.” Charges against Thomas O’Connell related to two accounts, namely, Permanent TSB, North Main Street, Cork, and Boyle Sports, Castle Street, Cork.