A Cork woman had her garden dug up before being conned out of €800 for work that was never done and one of those involved has now been jailed for four months.
That was the sentence imposed by Judge Olann Kelleher on Francis Kerrigan of Springfield B&B, Clane Road, Celbridge, Co Kildare, at Cork District Court.
The 31-year-old pleaded guilty to stealing the €800 on June 17 at Henry St, Cork.
Judge Olann Kelleher said: “It was a great scam. He set this up on Facebook.”
Dennis Healy, defence solicitor, said of Kerrigan: “He was part of a group.”
Judge Kelleher repeated: “This man set it up on the internet to fool people out of their money.”
Mr Healy said: “He was the driver of the van.”
The judge said Kerrigan’s phone number was the one the victim was given to make contact.
Mr Healy said: “He has a gambling problem. He went away immediately and lost the money. He suffers from anxiety and depression. He has been treated by a psychiatrist. He is attending Gamblers Anonymous. He blames it all on his gambling. It ruined his marriage.”
Judge Kelleher said: “This was well thought out and organised to fool the owner of the property. It was a terrible thing to do.
“Only that she got the registration number of his van he would not have been caught.”
Kerrigan brought €800 cash to court to compensate the victim.
The woman reported to gardaí that she arranged with a landscaping company to carry out work in her back garden having contacted the company via Facebook.
Sgt John Kelleher said: “An arrangement was made that the work would be carried out at a cost of €1,000.
“On June 15, 2017, the woman received a phone call from a man who informed her he would need €400 for materials the following day for work to begin on her property.
“On June 16 three men arrived in a Nissan X-Trail and she got the registration number.
“They proceeded to dig up the back garden. In the afternoon one of the men said another €400 was needed for cement and she paid him.
“The woman was told that they would return on June 17 to finish the job but they never returned at any point to finish off the work.”