Tuesday 12 December 2017

Court hears how conmen ‘intimidated and harassed’ pensioner while claiming to fix her driveway and charge her money

Jessica Magee

Two men have avoided jail after they conned a 71-year-old woman into giving them money while claiming to fix her driveway.

The victim, Rose O'Keeffe was “intimidated, harassed and emotionally drained” by the two men and a teenager who came to her house in Tallaght on August 17, 2011.

Willie McGinley (30), of Kilmachutchin Close, Clondalkin and Simon Doherty (41), of Old Castle Park, Bawnogue pleaded guilty to making demands for €370 with menaces.

Judge Patricia Ryan sentenced both men to two years in prison, but suspended it in full on condition that they keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years.

She also ordered that the men stay away from Ms O'Keeffe and her residence for ten years.

Garda Ciaran Kilcoyne told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Ms O'Keefe had been gardening when a van containing three people pulled up, containing McGinley, Doherty and a juvenile.

Doherty got out of the van and told her he was in the area doing driveways and that he would clean and fill her driveway for €400.

When she said she didn't have any money, the youth then started spraying the driveway, without the woman's permission.

Gda Kilcoyne said the men wouldn't take no for an answer. The youth told the woman to go to the bank and get money. A sum of €270 was mentioned.

“She was nearly crying at this stage,” said the garda.

At this point, McGinley went over to her. “He was demanding more money,” said the garda.

Ms O'Keefe then drove to her local AIB bank and withdrew €300, with a view to giving the men €270.

On her return to her home, the youth said he would put “white stuff” on her driveway to cover black marks. He told her that her driveway would have to be dug up and he wanted €1,600 for doing this.

Ms O'Keefe was “very upset” at this point and on seeing this, the youth asked for €600 instead of €1,600.

“She was very frightened,” said the garda.

The youth then mentioned the sum of €380. She told him she had €370 and he told her not to worry about the remaining €10.

Ms O'Keefe handed over €370 and the two men and the youth left in the van.

Gda Kilcoyne told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, “She was intimidated, harassed and emotionally drained. The work done by the men was very minimal”.

Gardaí were unable to take a statement from Ms O'Keefe that day, as she was too upset.

The court heard that Doherty gave gardaí €370 as compensation for Ms O'Keefe, while both men offered their bail money, €2,350 in total, to her.

Judge Ryan was told that the youth was given a caution, under the Garda Juvenile Liaison Scheme.

Counsel for Doherty, John Noonan BL, asked the court to take into consideration the fact that the amount of money in question was at the “lower end”. He said he accepted that the incident did have a huge impact on the victim.

Counsel for McGinley, Steven Dixon BL, said his client wished to apologise.

Judge Ryan directed that the men's combined bail money, totalling €2,350, be handed over to Ms O'Keeffe.

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