A Wicklow carpenter who did not have proper insurance when he started construction work on a Dublin home has been given a two-year suspended sentence for deception.
Simon Dominican Byrne (40), of Swanbrook, Bray, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of deception in that he induced Mary Ring to accept an insurance certificate as genuine and, as a consequence, caused her a loss on May 26th, 2019.
His previous convictions are for road traffic offences dealt with in the District Court.
The court heard that Byrne showed the homeowners two false insurance certificates before he came to site. The couple said they would not have engaged him to work on their home had they known he was not properly insured.
A dispute arose between Byrne and the couple a month after he began working on the site and when the couple tried to claim on his insurance because they believed they had incurred expenses, discovering he was uninsured.
In her victim impact statement, Ms Ring told the court that she and her husband have lost their savings and had to live in a home with no heating.
She said she would never have engaged Byrne had she known he did not have the required insurance.
He treated us with nothing but contempt
“He demonstrated that he knew what he was doing and did it deliberately,” she said. “He treated us with nothing but contempt and no apology has been offered.”
She said they had tried their best to get a person who was “honourable and trustworthy” and said she should be able to live in her home “without the horrors” they have been left with.
Ms Ring said the stress has “severely magnified an underlying condition” she has, adding that Byrne had treated them in “a despicable way”.
“We are left with the challenge of trying to undo the work he did,” she said, explaining that she lives in the home with her husband and two young children.
David Staunton BL, defending, said his client made “an undoubted mistake” but said he had a debt solvency issue at the time and was working to try and clear those debts.
“He behaved appallingly by representing that he was covered when he was not covered,” Mr Staunton said, agreeing with a comment from Judge Pauline Codd that “he should not have been near a site without it (insurance)”.
Mr Staunton asked the court to consider a number of reports before the court.
“Obviously he regrets his involvement in the case. He was trying to make a fist to get back on his feet and was desperate to try and effectively trade his way out of his difficulties. He was doing his best to work and do good by his family,” he said.
He confirmed that Byrne was a married man with two children and is currently working and employing four staff.
Judge Codd said it was an aggravating factor that Byrne had twice produced false insurance certificates to Ms Ring and acknowledged that she would never have entered into a contract with the man had she known he was not insured.
“There has to be a deterrence in respect of such conduct,” Judge Codd said, adding that the case warranted a headline sentence of three years.
She said she was taking into account that Byrne’s had entered a guilty plea, a positive probation report indicating that he is at a moderate risk of re-offending, and the fact that he has dependent children.
“He was under particular personal stress at the time which led him to take desperate measures to gain the trust of the injured party,” Judge Codd said.
She sentenced Byrne to a term of two years on each count, to run concurrently and suspended those sentences in full on strict conditions, including that he engage with the Probation Service for 12 months.
Judge Codd acknowledged that Byrne has started undergoing therapy for his declining mental health.