News Courts

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Uncle stole money from his teenage nephews' pen firm

Brendan Sweeney
Brendan Sweeney

Stephen Maguire

The uncle of two teenagers who created a successful business making pens, which have been bought by prominent people around the world, used a stolen bank card to steal from the firm.

Donegal Pens, which was set up by brothers Conor and Rónán McGarvey in Co Donegal, has been a huge success in recent years.

The pens, made from reclaimed bog oak and other woods, have been purchased by the likes of former US president Barack Obama, Daniel O'Donnell, Gay Byrne, President Michael D Higgins and Joe Duffy.

However, Dungloe District Court heard yesterday how the teenage boys' uncle used a stolen bank card to withdraw cash from their business.

Rónán and Conor McGarvey when they set up their business as schoolboys
Rónán and Conor McGarvey when they set up their business as schoolboys

Brendan Sweeney from Burtonport, but with an address at Cloghan, Co Donegal, appeared, charged with stealing €860 from the boys' business.

Father-of-three Sweeney was charged with theft using a bank card belonging to young entrepreneur Conor McGarvey (15), and his brother Rónán (18), and withdrawing money at a number of ATMs in various locations across Donegal.

The court heard that money was taken from a number of bank machines in Dungloe, Glenties and Letterkenny in August 2015.

Sweeney stole the bank card from Conor McGarvey's wallet after he had accidentally dropped it in Sweeney's car on the way to a football match.

It was only a few days later that the thefts were discovered when the injured party's brother, Rónán McGarvey, went to use his bank card, attached to the same bank account, and the transaction was declined.

When the brothers checked the account online, they discovered the thefts.

Gardaí were notified and an investigation was launched. CCTV footage was obtained by gardaí of Sweeney using the stolen bank card.

The court heard that the defendant made no effort over the two years to pay the money back to the injured party.

His solicitor, Cormac Hartnett, had handed €700 to the court and said the balance would be paid at Monday's court sitting.


He handed in a further €500 to the court this week, making an overall payment of €1,200 to the two Donegal Pens brothers.

He added that the theft was always "destined to fail", saying that his client had been short of money required to pay his car insurance.

"He used the card in an opportunist fashion," he said.

Mr Hartnett added that there had been a "huge breach of trust."

Sweeney, who has previous convictions for theft and motoring offences, was the subject of an arrest warrant earlier this year after he had failed to appear in court on the theft charges.

The injured party, Conor McGarvey, had previously told the court that Sweeney had never apologised for his actions.

Judge Paul Kelly yesterday asked what relations were like in the family at the moment.

Conor McGarvey replied: "Not good."


Judge Kelly also asked the injured party how the pen business is going and Mr McGarvey replied that it was going well.

"Business is now booming," added Mr McGarvey.

Judge Kelly wished him and the business well in the future.

He found Sweeney guilty of theft at Sharkey's Shop in Dungloe on August 9 and ordered Sweeney to keep the peace for 12 months on his own bond of €250.

Irish Independent

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