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Bank staff foil conman as he tries to rip off OAP for €5,000

A conman tried to rip off an elderly man for €5,000 by telling him he would have to move out of his home if he did not repair the roof.

Patrick Stokes (21) was claiming to be a roofing specialist when he told his victim that his roof was a health hazard, both to him and to his neighbours, a court heard.

Bank staff rang gardai after the victim turned up at the Permanent TSB branch in Rathfarnham to withdraw the cash.

A judge praised the bankers for being alert, saying their quick thinking stopped a man from being conned out of a large sum of money.

Stokes, of Oldcastle Park Crescent in Clondalkin, admitted before Blanchardstown District Court to dishonestly inducing a man to part with €5,000 for alleged necessary work on his house, contrary to Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001. The judge sentenced Stokes to four months in prison but suspended it for 18 months.

The incident took place at a house in Rathfarnham on March 11. The court heard that Stokes called to the victim's house claiming he was a roofing specialist, and the roof was a health hazard, to him and his neighbours.

Waste

Garda Kevin Drennan said the victim was told it would cost €5,000 to repair the roof, or alternatively, that due to the hazardous condition of the roof the house would have to be evacuated for a few months.

When told by the victim that he would have to withdraw the money from the bank, it was claimed that Stokes said: "Do it now, you can't waste any time".

Garda Drennan said said bank officials in the TSB became suspicious when the man tried to withdraw such a large amount of cash and they called the gardai.

No money was ever handed over to Stokes, who was sitting in a van across from the victim's house when gardai arrived. There was nothing wrong with the roof.

Defence solicitor John O'Doherty said the defendant was suffering from depression at the time of the incident, as he had just broken up with his fiancee and he had also broken his jaw in an accident.

Mr O'Doherty said Stokes deeply regretted his behaviour, had €750 compensation in court for the victim and had written him a letter of apology.

Judge Hugh O'Donnell praised bank staff for being alert, saying their quick thinking prevented the victim from handing over a lot of money.

hnews@herald.ie