A Killorglin man has been found guilty of 29 counts of theft from an elderly farmer, totalling around €8,000.
40-year-old Owen Doherty of 45 An Bhainseach, Killorglin, stood trial this week at Tralee Circuit Court before Judge Sinéad Behan.
He was also found guilty of two sample counts of forgery.
It was alleged that Mr Doherty wrote and cashed 77 cheques between January 2010 and August 2013, while signing the name of elderly farmer Bernard Hanafin without his permission.
Mr Doherty faced 77 counts of theft relating to each one of these cheques, and two sample counts of forgery, by the use of a false instrument to the prejudice of Mr Hanafin.
The jury of nine men and three women deliberated for just over two hours, before returning unanimous guilty verdicts on 29 counts of theft and two counts of forgery.
The court heard that the accused worked on and off at the farm of Bernard Hanafin in Killorglin, who is now 78 years old, and has lived on his own for around 20 years.
Mr Hanafin said he always paid Mr Doherty for the work he did, but always in cash and never by cheque, as Mr Doherty was also receiving social welfare at the time.
The prosecution alleged Mr Doherty was writing and cashing cheques payable to himself and his wife, with some made out to cash and others to local businesses, signing Mr Hanafin’s name without his permission.
Mr Hanafin was shown every one of the cheques individually in court, and on 77 occasions told the court he knew nothing about the cheques and certainly did not allow Mr Doherty to sign his name or cash them.
Barrister Tom Rice put it to Mr Doherty under cross examination he had taken advantage of an old man to the point his account went into the red, and that he had no business writing cheques for Mr Hanafin, who was fit and able to write his own cheques.
Mr Doherty admitted to writing cheques and even signing Mr Hanafin’s name, but said he always did so in the presence of Mr Hanafin and with his permission.
Mr Doherty’s wife told the court the reason some cheques were payable to her was that she used to ask Mr Hanafin for loans to go out partying at the weekend before her husband’s social welfare payments came in on the Monday or Tuesday.
Mr Hanafin denied ever having any dealings with Mr Doherty’s wife, and denied being like a grandfather to any of the five children of the accused.
The cheques relating to each one of the guilty counts of theft add up to over €8,000.
One of the cheques was of the value of €1,200, and Mr Doherty told the court he could not remember what this was for, but speculated it must have been for something to do with the farm.
Defending barrister Richard Liston indicated he would be applying for bail, and the prosecution did not object to this, but Judge Sinéad Behan decided to remand Mr Doherty in custody.
He is due to be sentenced on Friday, May 19th, at Tralee Circuit Court.