Tuesday 28 January 2020

'Career criminal' jailed after posing as detective to steal from elderly

John ‘Buddy’ O’Brien (40)
John ‘Buddy’ O’Brien (40)

Ciaran Murphy

A Kerry man who was the subject of a nationwide hunt following an appearance on CrimeCall for impersonating a detective and stealing from the elderly was jailed for 20 months yesterday.

Described by gardaí as a "career criminal", John 'Buddy' O'Brien, of Hillview Drive in Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick, was jailed for theft, impersonating a garda and driving with no insurance.

The charges stem from incidents where mainly elderly people who live alone were targeted, with O'Brien posing as a plain clothes garda detective to gain access to their homes before stealing money.


Originally from Tralee, O'Brien had been sought in relation to a number of such incidents in Cork, Clare, Mayo, Donegal and Waterford.

He has 103 previous convictions, a string of them for burglaries and thefts.

In these cases, O'Brien posed as a plain clothes detective, thereby gaining entry and stealing from his victims.

Following an appeal on RTÉ's CrimeCall late in February, a nationwide hunt ensued with O'Brien being brought to book in Co Waterford.

It has been reported that O'Brien evaded detection by hiding out in various halting sites around the country.

Judge Kevin Staunton said that O'Brien carried out "despicable" acts where he was "preying on elderly people".

He handed down a 10-month sentence for the theft of €150 on January 14 at an address in Ballygriffin, Kilmacow, Co Kilkenny. He received a further six months for impersonating a garda.


For a similar incident at Lemybrien in Co Waterford two days later, where he stole €170, he received another 10-month term, with an additional six months for impersonating a garda.

The 10-month sentences are consecutive to one another, while the six month sentences are to run concurrently with each.

O'Brien received a further five-month concurrent sentence for driving with no insurance and was banned from driving for two years.

The sentencing happened at the District Court in Waterford yesterday morning.

He has already been jailed for three years for stealing €3,200 from a pensioner with Parkinson's disease at her home in June 2012.

Anyone with information on any related crime is asked to contact gardaí at Mallow, on (022) 31450.

Irish Independent

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