Tuesday 25 October 2016

Roofer intimidated pensioner (84) in ‘despicable’ €3k scam

Kathleen Byrne outside her thatched cottage in Raheny. Photo: Collins
Kathleen Byrne outside her thatched cottage in Raheny. Photo: Collins

A roofer has been found guilty of scamming €3,000 from a frightened 84-year-old woman for unnecessary work at her northside cottage.

John McCarthy Jnr, aged 21, was convicted of theft from Kathleen Byrne on November 3 2014, a charge he had denied.

He faced trial at Dublin District Court, during which the pensioner said she was intimidated and brought by the roofer to the her local Post Office to withdraw the cash from her savings.


An engineer also told the court the work McCarthy said he would carry out at her Raheny cottage was not needed.

The court heard he claimed he went to a building supplier a 15-minute drive away, but after two hours he had still not returned.

Judge John Brennan said that it was a "quite despicable" act.

Ms Byrne, he added, was a vulnerable 84-year-old woman living on her own and had €3,000 extracted from her in circumstances where no documentary evidence - such as receipts or quotations - were provided to her, which he imagined would be normal for responsible businesses.

He also said she was not given any time to consider her options and she was "ferried" to the post office to get the money.

Judge Brennan adjourned sentencing until a date in March to allow for a pre-sentence probation report on ­McCarthy as well as a victim impact ­statement to be prepared.

The court heard Ms Byrne lived in a thatched cottage, which also had a flat roof over extensions to the property.

She told prosecuting solicitor Stephanie O'Brien that "two well-dressed lads" arrived and she thought they were "good fellas". They said her roof was dirty and mossy, and offered to clean it for €120.

She told them they could clean the roof. After about 20 minutes the defendant came down and told her "the whole roof is broke, you can see the boards and the felt is gone".

At first she was quoted €2,000, then the price went up to €3,000, and then to €4,000 to replace the roof. She said she could not afford that.


McCarthy - with an address at The Lane, College Farm, Newbridge, Co Kildare - said he would bring her into Raheny Post Office and she got into his van and he drove her. When she came back from the Post Office and got into the van again, she was asked: "Did you get the money?".

She handed over the €3,000, which the man counted.

Ms Byrne said she was driven back to her house and when they arrived the men said the work was done, "but it was not done. I looked behind me and they were gone". She said two other men were left working on the roof, and that she had been confused and upset and intimidated.

Two foreign men had been left working on the roof with blow torches and could not answer when asked questions.

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