A 67-year-old man was remanded in custody until April 16 for putting a couple through a “living hell” by seriously damaging their Ballinspittle house when he was renting it.
The couple described the “living hell” they were put through by the ‘cruel’ behaviour of tenant, Denis O’Connor from Hillside, Cappagh, Kinsale, County Cork.
As well as causing an estimated €16,000 in criminal damage by sawing rafters out of the roof and other acts of destruction, he refused to pay rent for 16 months he was in the house.
The owner of the house, Audrey O’Mahony, said the financial strain due to the lack of rental income from the Ballinspittle house made it hard to meet their own mortgage repayments forcing them to cut back on groceries, clothing and heating. She said stress ultimately led to her collapse on one day and being rushed by ambulance to hospital.
Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin said he had huge sympathy for Ms O’Mahony.
Noting that defendant Denis O’Connor had so far come up with €2,500 compensation, the judge warned him he was facing a jail term if he could not come up with further compensation.
Sentencing was adjourned until April 16 and the accused was remanded in custody until then.
Ms O’Mahony testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that she believed O’Connor cut the rafters on the roof of their Ballinspittle house in an effort to make the property unsellable so they would be forced to sell it to him at a reduced price.
She said the 67-year-old put herself and her husband and family through a never-ending nightmare by what he did from the time he began renting their house from them in 2015.
“I believe that it was Denis O’Connor’s intention to get permanent possession of our house without paying us and that he is not the least bit sorry for what he has put us through. His actions against us are inexcusable, cruel and downright wrong,” she said.
He pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to the house by removing roof rafters and damaging floors and various fittings at the O’Mahonys’ property at Duneen, Ballinvredig, Ballinspittle, Co Cork between December 5 2015 and July 23 2018. He also admitted the theft of a fitted kitchen worth €1,000 which he removed from the property to replace with his own kitchen, which he in turn removed when he left, leaving the house without a functioning kitchen.
Garda Cormac Dineen told how the O’Mahonys moved from the single story cottage in Ballinspittle to their new home in Clonakilty and put the house up for rent and O’Connor, a handyman, began renting the property in 2015 and agreed to carry out some minor repair works with their consent.
However, the O’Mahonys gave him no permission to carry out some of the works that he did, including the removal of 27 roof rafters to use to put a V-shaped roof on a portable building and taking up a hall floor and other actions which left the O’Mahonys with a bill for damage totalling €16,000.
Garda Dineen confirmed O’Connor has no previous convictions and defence barrister, Donal O’Sullivan BL said his client was remorseful. But Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin queried this as he had observed O’Connor shaking his head during the evidence against him.
Ms O’Mahony told the court O’Connor stopped paying rent in April 2017 and told them things were going to get nasty.