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Saturday 24 February 2018

Thief posed as garda to steal €28k from pensioner

Kenneth Lyons was jailed for three-and-a-half years
Kenneth Lyons was jailed for three-and-a-half years
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A PENSIONER who withdrew his €28,000 life savings from the bank over fears of an Irish financial collapse had it stolen by a young man impersonating a garda.

Kenneth Lyons (31) was jailed for three-and-a-half years for what a judge described as "a very mean" crime against a vulnerable old man.

The 71-year-old victim had the cash, which he had saved up to cover his funeral expenses, stolen just hours before he was due to fly to Medjugorje on a pilgrimage.

Lyons, who has 15 previous convictions, appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court after being detained in the UK last May on foot of a European arrest warrant.

He was first charged in 2011 with the theft of €28,000 and with impersonating a member of the gardai.

Lyons, of Willison Meadows, Blarney, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to both offences at Wolfe Tone Street, Cork, on June 26, 2011.

Judge Sean O Donnabhain heard that the victim was so scared of Irish banks collapsing during the financial crisis that he had withdrawn his life savings and kept them in an envelope at home.

As he loaded luggage into his car for the pilgrimage, he was approached by Lyons who identified himself as a detective at Gurranabraher garda station.

The pensioner was told they were investigating a number of robberies in the area and were offering to mark any cash held by householders for security reasons.

The pensioner brought Lyons into his home and showed him an envelope containing €28,000 in €50 notes. Lyons grabbed the envelope, ran down the stairs and out of the house.

The 71-year-old attempted to give chase but lost Lyons.

Gardai called to Lyons's house two days later and found €18,900 hidden in two socks.

Lyons had also shaved off all his hair in a bid to avoid being identified from all the media coverage of the theft.

He was charged before Cork District Court on June 30, 2011, and secured High Court bail the following month.

The case came before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on May 3, 2012, but Lyons failed to appear. He was later traced to Manchester, arrested and brought back to Ireland.

In evidence, Lyons said he was very sorry: "I deeply regret it... I am sorry for what I done," he sobbed.

In a victim impact statement, the theft was described as having an enormous impact on the pensioner.

"It had a very bad effect on him. This was money saved up for a rainy day. Money for (his) funeral expenses. He has suffered from depression ever since."

Don McCarthy, for Lyons, said his client had now repaid the outstanding €9,000 to the victim, thanks to a loan from his father-in-law.

Irish Independent

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