Saturday 17 August 2019

'I felt it was my life or my money' - woman (76) terrified after bogus workers stole her €205,000 life savings

Michael Coen
Michael Coen
Thomas Coen

Ann Healy

Two brothers involved in the theft of some €205,000 from a reclusive, elderly woman were each sentenced to six years in prison with the final 18 months suspended.

The now 76-year-old woman can no longer live independently and is waiting for a place in a care home.

She told gardaí she handed over her life savings to the men over 18 months because she feared for her life and was ashamed to tell her family.

Bogus handymen Thomas Coen (46) and Michael Coen (38), of Corrib Park, Newcastle, Galway, pleaded guilty to theft of large sums of cash from the woman between June 2014 and November 2015.

They had carried out inferior work in her home and garden, inflating prices while demanding payment on an almost daily basis over 18 months until gardaí were alerted.

"I was afraid of my life of them, they are big men. I felt it was my life or my money. I knew they were codding me up to my eyeballs," said the victim impact statement delivered at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.

She added: "This whole ordeal has left me physically and mentally exhausted since this incident, I can no longer live alone. I do not want to go back to my own home as I fear these people will come back."

The court heard previously that Thomas Coen pleaded guilty in June of last year to the first 30 theft charges, committed on dates between June 17 and August 30, 2014. Michael Coen pleaded guilty to eight sample charges of the remaining 31 involving the theft of cash from the woman on dates between September 2014 and November 2015.

The brothers accepted €205,000 had been stolen but said they had taken just €80,000 of it for themselves and other people were behind the scam as well.

Judge Rory McCabe said the two men engaged, possibly with others, in the systematic, pre-meditated, nasty and very ugly harassment of an elderly woman. Both had previous convictions for dishonesty.

Irish Independent

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