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Unhappy customer who smashed 28 TVs in bookmakers avoids jail


Free man: John Farrell leaving court yesterday. Photo: Collins

Free man: John Farrell leaving court yesterday. Photo: Collins

Free man: John Farrell leaving court yesterday. Photo: Collins

A man smashed 28 television screens with a hammer in a bookmakers, causing €10,450 in damage, after staff refused to pay out on losing bets.

A court heard that John Farrell (47) was "raging" about not getting the money he believed he was owed.

He felt the bet he had put on had not been processed properly and had been placed on the wrong race.

Farrell, of Barnwell Drive, Ballymun, Dublin, was spared a jail sentence after he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage at Boyle Sports, Ballymun Road, on September 6, 2016.

The court heard he has 25 previous convictions, with the most recent being handling stolen property, in 2001.

Garda Keith Morris told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that Farrell came to the shop and handed in a docket for a treble bet looking to collect his winnings.

The staff member pointed out to him that the first horse in the first race had not won so it was not a winning ticket. He was not happy when she handed the ticket back to him and said it was not a winner.

The woman served some other customers before scanning the ticket again and explaining to him that as the first horse on the ticket had not won, the whole bet was lost. Farrell muttered something under his breath before telling her: "Wait until you're locking up the door on your own I will be there."

The whole interaction lasted three or four minutes before he left. Farrell returned in the afternoon and gave the ticket to a different staff member and was again told the ticket was not a winner.

"If you are not going to pay me I will take it out on the screens," said Farrell, who was carrying a black bag. He took out a hammer and started smashing television screens. Staff went into a back room and continued to hear smashing. They activated a panic alarm.

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After Farrell left, they found 28 screens of different sizes smashed, as well as three panes of glass broken at the front of the shop. The damage was valued at €10,450.

Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing BL, defending, said his client, who is now receiving treatment for an aggressive form of cancer, had felt the money was owed to him. He said Farrell made full admissions and had not come to Garda attention again since the offence.

Mr Ó Dúnlaing handed a letter from Fr Peter McVerry into court on his client's behalf.

Judge Melanie Greally said the case had "exceptional features". She took into account the letter, Farrell's guilty plea and his co-operation with gardaí. She imposed a four-year suspended sentence.

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