A man who defrauded a north Longford pensioner out of €500,000 of his life savings was spared jail after a number of people including his son asked the court to exercise leniency during sentencing.
PJ Devine, Ballybay, Co Monaghan appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson at Longford Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to four charges that included the theft of £5,000 in November 2000 from Tommy Kyne, Derrycasson, Dring, Co Longford; appropriating a property, valued at £150,000 belonging to Mr Kyne without his consent in 2008 and dishonestly appropriating another property, belonging to the north Longford man, valued at £54,000 in 2004.
He also pleaded guilty to stealing £5,000 from another couple in north Longford May 1999.
Mr Kyne, the court was told died in 2014 with losses of over €500,000 to his estate.
Outlining the evidence to the court, Mr Shane Geraghty, Counsel for the State said that Mr Kyne had invested a total of €700,000 with the defendant - a former employee of Irish Life - and only ever received, during his lifetime, one payout of €150,000 from the company. The court also heard that the total loss to Mr Kyne’s estate was €506,031.
The court heard that in 2013 when Mr Kyne (80) endeavoured to sort his affairs out so that he could make a will, it came to light that a number of investments he believed he had made with Irish Life were fake.
He had gotten to know Mr Devine when he was employee of Irish Life and had begun investing money at that time with the defendant.
Mr Devine, meanwhile, continued taking money for investment from Mr Kyne even when he was no longer working for Irish Life.
The court heard that Mr Devine was an alcoholic and a gambler and had fallen into debt as a result of his personal difficulties.
Mr Devine had given Mr Kyne receipts for money handed over, the court heard, and those receipts had been issued on Irish Life paper and purported to be genuine.
They were later found to be fake and were designed on a computer by the defendant.
Mr Kyne, the court was told, had also been led to believe that his investments through Mr Devine were genuine.
The court heard that when Mr Devine sold his home place in Aughnacliffe, he drank and gambled away the money and tried desperately to hid the situation from his wife.
He owed money after that and he pointed out to gardaí that he never intended to deprive Mr Kyne and had €60,000 in court for the Kyne family.
In mitigation, the defendant’s solicitor Mr Smith said his client’s cooperation with the Garda investigation into the matter had resulted in a speedy conclusion to the case for the State.
He also pointed out that Mr Devine had addressed his difficulties and was now “a serious advocate” of Cluain Mhuire.
“He has a sum of €60,000 in compensation here in court and all his worldly goods amount €115,000,” counsel continued, before pointing out that the Devine family home, in Co Donegal, was now up for sale.
“He has had a serious fall from grace and now lives in a flat over a pub; he is also in receipt of disability allowance.”
During his deliberations, Judge Johnson said that the matter before him was an “outrageous case” of theft, deception and production of false receipts.
“These offences carry a custodial sentence but taking into the account the interests of society and the Kyne family, the more compensation they can get will be of benefit,” the Judge added.
“I’m not going to impose a custodial sentence.”
The Judge ordered the €60,000 to be handed over the family of Tommy Kyne and asked that a full affidavit of Mr Devine’s means be furnished to the court on May 3, 2018.
“As soon as the house is sold,” the Judge warned, “Mr Devine’s proceeds will be paid forthwith to the Kyne family.”