A GAMBLING addict has been jailed for two and a half years for duping an acquaintance out of the €56,000 he inherited from his late mother.
Judge Helen Boyle imposed a three-year sentence with the last six months suspended in the case against Thomas O’Connell, aged 48, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Sergeant Stephen Fuller investigated the case and gave details of the scam carried out by O’Connell, of 14 Redbarn Cottages, Youghal, Co Cork, originally from Cork city. Facing 260 charges of theft by deception, he pleaded guilty to a series of sample counts out of 260 thefts carried out between January 16, 2017, and January 17, 2019.
Judge Boyle said it was a sad case and that the accused spent a lot of his time gambling and drinking between 20 and 30 cans of beer every day. She noted that he was of some support to his daughter and grandson. The victim, aged 66, came to Cork city about 20 years ago and met O’Connell through work.
“Following the death of his mother she left him €56,000 and Thomas O’Connell began to approach him for loans,” said Det Garda Fuller. “He gave them to him but he returned looking for further loans on a regular basis.
“The understanding was that they would be repaid. The victim provided him with his account details to facilitate repayment of loans.”
However, he began a scam through which he effectively kept taking the victim’s money until it was all gone.
O’Connell telephoned his victim, pretending to be a prominent Cork solicitor informing him that he and O’Connell were under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau and that if the payments did not continue to two accounts set up by O’Connell, CAB would move against him (the victim).
The solicitor had no knowledge that he was being impersonated about an entirely fictitious CAB investigation until the end of the two-year period.
The victim rang the solicitor’s office to inform him he could not continue making the payments. The solicitor invited him to attend his office and informed him that he appeared to have been conned, that the victim had never been contacted by the solicitor, and he should contact gardaí immediately. He did, and so did the solicitor.
It was established that the accounts to which the payments totalling €56,000 were made were a personal bank account and a Boyle Sports account, both in Thomas O’Connell’s name.
The payments varied from €100 to €1,000 and averaged at just over €200.
“He admitted that he took €56,000 and impersonated [the solicitor],” Det Garda Fuller said.