Brothers jailed after forcing 72-year-old woman to purchase thousands of euros worth of machinery

Brothers jailed after forcing 72-year-old woman to purchase thousands of euros worth of machinery

The 12 chainsaws, 11 generators and seven power washers and assorted tools a Bantry woman was pressured into buying at an extortionate price. Pic: An Garda Siochána

A 72-year-old woman was followed to her remote home in West Cork by two men who then filled her living room with chainsaws, power-washers, generators, and other tools only to demand huge payments.

The sentencing judge said they undermined her totally in an invasion of the privacy of her home in an act of phenomenal criminality. He jailed the duo for two years.

38-year-old Patrick O’Driscoll of 4 Wolfburgess East, Rathkeale, County Limerick and his brother Thomas O’Driscoll, 39, of 3 Boherbuoi, Rathkeale, were jailed for two years today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court for making a gain by deception on November 21 2018 at Cannawee, Goleen, County Cork.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “A plea of guilty is significant in a case like this. It obviates the need for the injured party to come to court.

“This is a phenomenally serious offence and no result other than a custodial sentence is possible. I take their age as an aggravating factor. How two men in their late thirties could do a thing like this to an elderly, vulnerable woman – they followed her home to a remote location. And to be dealt with in this way by adult men is phenomenally serious.

“They were very overbearing, overbearing her will. Not alone did she not get time to think, she hardly had time to breathe.

“When she crossed the cheques she was made to tear those up and start again. That is an act of complete criminality. They knew what they wanted and they were going to get it despite the woman’s best efforts.” 

The judge said the invasion of the privacy of the woman in her home was combined with a complete undermining of her by the two men.

The judge sentenced both men to two years. Two women approached the defendants and one of them cried loudly. 

Judge Ó Donnabháin called for the woman to be taken out of the courtroom: “Remove the drama, I have enough to be doing.” The women then made comments to Det. Garda Martin Bohane as they were leaving.

Detective Garda Martin Bohane said the injured party who is now 72 years old was at a jewellers in Skibereen when she was engaged in conversation by a man who was a stranger to her. He showed her a brochure and said they were selling power-tools in the area and asked if she would be interested in buying anything. She said she had no interest but he gave her a phone number to call.

When she got home she rang the number to repeat that she had no interest and they should not call. He said he was nearby and a moment later a van arrived outside her remote house.

Patrick O’Driscoll did most of the talking and he referred to the man with him – Thomas O’Driscoll – as ‘George’.

The elderly woman said she would be moving out of her home at the end of the month and she had no need for anything. 

Det. Garda Bohane said Patrick O’Driscoll was persistent and charming and talking about everything and anything, including Our Lady of Lourdes at one stage.

As he was talking to the elderly woman, Thomas O’Driscoll kept bringing stuff in from the van until her room was completely packed with 12 chainsaws, eleven generators, seven power-washers and an assortment of tools and knives.

The woman who was living alone felt very vulnerable and she was then asked for payment. She said had no cash and it would have to be by cheque.

They got her to write cheques for sums of €6,500, €3,000, three for €4,000 and one for a sum she could not recall. She crossed two of the cheques and they told her to tear those up and start again. In all, they were in her house for 30 minutes.

By the time she made a complaint about the matter and was advised to cancel the cheques with AIB two of the cheques had been cashed already – one for €3,500 and one for €3,000. Det. Garda Bohane said the loss would have been much greater if she had not cancelled the cheques.

During the evidence, Judge Ó Donnabháin asked, “What was this woman supposed to do with all the knives, chainsaws and generators?” No answer was given to this question.” 

In her victim impact statement the woman described the man who did the talking as a charmer while she felt more intimidated by the second man. “My instinct told me not to show fear. I did not want the stuff. I was bewildered. I was vulnerable at the time. I had a lot of trauma in my life. I am glad they were caught. I am glad I got the money back. I was frightened and embarrassed.” 

Barristers, Mahon Corkery and Ray Boland for Thomas and Patrick O’Driscoll, respectively, said that as well as repaying the €6,500 they also were paying their bail money of €8,000, between them, as further compensation to the victim.

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