'As low as you can get' - carpenter spared jail for conning pensioner
A carpenter who conned an elderly householder out of more than €3,500 for unnecessary roof repairs has been spared jail by a judge who said his crime was "as low as you can get".
Charles O'Brien (38) swindled the pensioner after showing him rotten timbers, pretending they had come from his home.
He brought the old wood to the man's house to deceive him and took three payments from him, in what a judge described as a "despicable crime".
Judge David McHugh said that, instead of jail, it was more apt that O'Brien used his skills to help the elderly and other vulnerable people.
He ordered him to carry out 240 hours of community service instead of a six-month jail sentence.
O'Brien, of Rosebank Place, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to three counts of deception.
He induced the victim dishonestly to make two payments of €1,500 and another one of €570.
The offences happened on dates unknown between March 11 and 16 this year, at Cappaghmore Estate, Clondalkin.
The case was originally heard last year and had been adjourned for the payment of compensation.
When it came back before Blanchardstown District Court yesterday, defence solicitor Simon Fleming said the accused had already paid €2,000 in compensation to the victim and had now made a final payment of €1,570. There was "more than himself" involved in this "shameful act" but O'Brien was the first person to deal with it, Mr Fleming said.
With full restitution made, the victim was no longer at a financial loss, he said - although he had "suffered considerable distress".
"I consider the crime to be pretty much as low as you can get," Judge McHugh said. "It's shameful in the extreme, it's despicable."
He said O'Brien deserved jail but added his skills could better be employed helping the vulnerable, particularly the elderly "on whom he preyed" and the homeless.
The judge asked Mr Fleming if the accused was "sorry because he is sorry or sorry because he was caught".
Mr Fleming replied: "He is ashamed of himself, there is genuine remorse."
"I think his remorse is bona fide, he hasn't displayed anything to the contrary."
Previously, Garda Sergeant Maria Callaghan said the accused and another man went to the victim's home and told him that he believed the roof needed repair.
Rotten timbers were brought in by O'Brien and shown to the victim, who was told that they were from his roof.
The repairs were carried out and the victim paid €3,570.
The accused had previous motoring convictions.