Tuesday 16 January 2018

GAA star who took €10,000 from elderly man avoids jail

Darren Gleeson. Picture: Sportsfile
Darren Gleeson. Picture: Sportsfile

Conor Kane

A three-and-a-half year suspended prison sentence has been imposed on All-Ireland winning Tipperary goalkeeper Darren Gleeson after he admitted obtaining €10,000 by deception from an elderly man who was a financial client of his.

Nenagh Circuit Court heard the 36-year-old star hurler had a "significant gambling problem" for which he has been in counselling since 2015, having made a "large number of transactions" with Paddy Power. He also lost money through investments made prior to the economic crash.

Gleeson, who is due to line out for the defending All-Ireland champions in their championship qualifier match against Westmeath this weekend, pleaded guilty yesterday to a breach of section six of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

Gleeson, from Shesharoe, Portroe, Co Tipperary, had been charged with two counts of stealing a total of €32,000 from Timothy Heenan (80) in 2013, and two alternate counts of obtaining the same monies by deception. Justin Dillon SC, for the State, indicated the plea to one count of deception, relating to a sum of €10,000, was acceptable to the DPP, subject to the facts of the other deception charge being put before the court. The State has entered a "nolle prosequi" in relation to the theft charges.

Gleeson was Tipperary's starting goalkeeper when they beat Kilkenny in last year's All-Ireland senior hurling final and was a substitute when they won against the same opposition in 2010.

Detective Garda Martin Connolly told the court that, on different dates in 2013, Mr Heenan had separate sums of €10,000 and €22,000 to invest. He gave cheques in these amounts to Gleeson, who was the director of a financial services company in Nenagh at the time.

The garda told the court there appeared to be some over-writing or under-writing on the €22,000 cheque, with the letters "PTSB", for Permanent TSB, visible underneath. He was asked to investigate the matter after Gleeson's own bank contacted gardaí with "concerns" about transactions. He met up with Gleeson a number of times, on a voluntary basis, and on one occasion the accused said he had been given the money by Mr Heenan "as a loan". This was put to Mr Heenan who said the money "was not a loan" and was meant to be invested.

The money received from Mr Heenan had since been repaid, with interest, the court heard. Mr Heenan didn't want to see Gleeson go to jail and wanted him to continue hurling.

The court heard Gleeson's career in finance is over and he has since secured employment with a mechanical services company. His employer, John Lenihan, gave evidence on his behalf and said he was an "exceptional" employee.

Hurling coach with Gleeson's Portroe club, John Sheedy, said he always regarded him as "a great leader". Gleeson is married, with three children, and had no previous convictions.

Irish Independent

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