herald

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Conman jailed for tricking 'vulnerable' carer out of €90k

Michael O’Brien was jailed for three years for the scam
Michael O’Brien was jailed for three years for the scam

A man who was involved in a scam that conned an "exceptionally vulnerable" woman out of her life savings has been jailed for three years.

Michael O'Brien's victim was left with just €93 in her bank account after handing over €90,000 to him.

O'Brien (24), of Old Castle Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four sample charges of deception on dates between October 2015 and November 2015. He has no previous convictions.

Keith Spencer, defending, said the DPP accepted his client's pleas of guilty on the basis that his culpability was limited to €20,000.

O'Brien told gardai he was working for "a boss man" but did not name him.

Judge Melanie Greally noted O'Brien had brought €20,000 to court but said the balance of the "exceptionally vulnerable" woman's life savings had been "irretrievably lost".

She imposed a three-year custodial term and declined to suspend any part of it, noting that it was a very aggravated form of deception.

Garda Dermot English told Derek Cooney, prosecuting, that the woman, who was being treated as an outpatient in the psychiatric ward in St James's Hospital, was also acting as a carer for her mother (95).

Gda English said the woman was very distressed when she reported the incident to gardai in December 2015.

She said one day a man called to her home and said she needed to have her driveway re-paved or the postman would trip and sue her. She agreed to the work and paid €7,500 for it.

She said the same man then suggested he paint her house after telling her that it was "going to fall down".

She paid €1,500 for this but the work was never completed.

Gda English said, some time later, the woman received a call from a person purporting to be an accountant with a bank.

He told her he had heard that she had been scammed by a group of Travellers and he could help her get her money back.

The caller told the woman if she paid him in instalments of €5,000 he would get her "a big cheque for €76,000".

The woman agreed to this and met O'Brien in numerous locations, including the car park of St James's Hospital.

Arrested

She regularly withdrew €5,000 from two separate bank accounts and handed it over until she was left with just €93.

Gda English said, when the woman went to gardai, she told them she was due to meet the same man the following day in the St James's Hospital car park to hand over a further €5,000.

Gardai set up an operation and arrested O'Brien when they spotted him meeting with her.

O'Brien claimed on his arrest that he was working for someone else and that he only got €600 after agreeing to collect more than €80,000 from her over a number of meetings.

Gda English said gardai are not investigating anyone else.

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