A 66-year-old man whose modus operandi has been to fish money out of collection boxes in Cork has pleaded guilty to targeting a Share collection box at St. Augustine’s church in Cork to steal cash.
Charles Nolan pleaded guilty to carrying out the thefts at St. Augustine’s and a similar crime at St Peter and Paul’s Church – also in Cork city.
Nolan of Murphy Gardens, Evergreen Road, Cork, was caught on September 12 2022 by Garda Lorraine O’Donovan who was on patrol by St. Augustine’s Church and she observed him interfering with a Share box.
Sergeant Gearóid Davis said at Cork District Court, “She approached him. She found he had opened the box with a key. He said he found it a few weeks ago and was coming in once a fortnight to access the Share box with the key.
“He said at the time, ‘I don’t know how much I get. I take €15 from each box – enough for a bag of heroin and gambling. I’m trying to get into rehab. I hate what I’m doing’.
"At the time he was in possession of €60 and $24,” Sgt. Davis said.
Just over a month later he was caught doing something similar at the other church. At around 4pm on the afternoon of October 21 he was seen on CCTV extracting euro notes with a fishing tool from an offertory donation box. When confronted by the sacristan he fled with a sum of cash, Sgt. Davis said.
Judge Olann Kelleher has dealt with similar theft cases by the accused in the past and said, “I don’t know what else he does with his life but this man’s modus operandi is that he seems to be expert at fishing out money (from collection boxes).”
The 66-year-old said, “I am finished with that life. I can’t do that anymore.”
Frank Buttimer defence solicitor said the defendant brought €500 to be given to the two churches - €250 each.
He also brought a letter to the court which was ready privately by Judge Kelleher.
The judge said he would put sentencing back for two months but warned, “If there are any charges – even charges pending – before the court of a similar nature you will get ten months in jail.”
Charles Nolan said to the judge, “You have always been very fair to me.”