An elderly woman who was conned out of thousands of euro for work at her home lost such confidence in living alone that she has since moved into a nursing home.
“This was reprehensible in the extreme,” Judge Gerard O’Brien said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
The judge said that the vulnerable in society had to be protected from this sort of crime.
He ordered that one of those involved in the scam would gather more compensation. Defendant John O’Regan had sentencing put back for one year by Judge O’Brien. He said that the compensation must be paid to the woman at least two months before the sentencing in July 2020.
Ronan Barnes, defence barrister, said the accused was “at the bottom of the hierarchy” in terms of those who carried out the offence.
The judge commended the investigating guard, Garda Don McCarthy, for the quality of his investigating in tracking down John O’Regan and one of his accomplices.
John O’Regan, 32, of 16 Willow Grove, Killarney, County Kerry, pleaded guilty to one charge of concealing the source and ownership of property that was the proceeds of criminal conduct, namely €350 in cash on July 28, 2016, at Bank of Ireland, 32 South Mall.
Garda McCarthy said the elderly woman on Boreenmanna Road was approached and asked if she wanted her drive power-washed. She said yes but no price was agreed in advance. The work took about three hours and she thought she would be charged about €300.
The unidentified man said the cost was €2,700. She felt she had to pay this. The man assisted her as she was writing a check and in removing it from the chequebook. Two blank cheques were stolen and when she checked her bank account later she discovered that three cheques had been cashed – for €2,700, €1,700 and €4,800.
Garda McCarthy said the victim said afterwards: “I was ashamed. I felt stupid. I will now live my remaining years in a nursing home.”
Judge O’Brien said that the actions of John O’Regan – and the other man who previously got a suspended sentence - were disgraceful.
John O’Regan had previous convictions which included a three-year suspended sentence for money-laundering in Tralee.