A West Limerick man with a history of stealing from elderly people has been jailed for four years after he made an old man pay over €14,000 for work that was worth €1,000.
Patrick O’Brien of Convent Road, Abbeyfeale, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing €14,200 from 81-year-old Sinclair Downey in September 2013. He has 29 previous convictions including 12 for theft, some of which involved making elderly people pay over the odds for work carried out on their homes. The 32-year old is due to be sentenced in Tralee Circuit Criminal Court later this year for a similar offence. It emerged in court that Patrick O’Brien was one of the prisoners held hostage in Cloverhill on Wednesday. Barrister Tony McGillicuddy said Patrick O’Brien was held hostage in Cloverhill which caused him some distress. Garda Colleen Doherty said a number of men called to Sinclair Downey’s Dublin home and told him he needed a hole on his end wall repaired as birds were getting into it. They quoted him €80 but then said it would cost €1,700. Garda Doherty said the men renewed the roof and told Mr Downey he’d signed a contract for work on the flat roof. Mr Downey was told he’d have to pay VAT and that he owed €4,800; he gave this in a cheque. Mr O’Brien was identified in CCTV footage cashing this cheque. The men then insisted Mr Downey hand over a further €4,800 and drove him to a bank and waited while he withdrew the cash. Garda Doherty said the men then told Mr Downey he owed a further €4,600 which he gave them. An engineer examined the work and estimated the total cost of the work was €950 plus VAT. O’Brien acknowledged the work would’ve cost no more than €1,000 and told gardaí he’d be able to get the money back. The cash was never returned. His barrister asked Judge Martin Nolan to take into account his client’s plea, a letter from O’Brien who said he wanted to give Mr Downey “some peace of mind” and that he’d grown up impoverished.