A man who appeared at a recent sitting of Longford Circuit Court charged under the Theft & Fraud Offences Act was sentenced to three years in prison which the judge subsequently suspended for seven years, following a hearing into the matter.
Paul Kenny (41), Kilbride, Abbeylara, Co Longford appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson charged with four counts of theft and deception from Ulster Bank, Edgeworthstown on dates between June 1, 2013 and December 12, 2014.
The court heard that in June 2015, Kathleen Edgar - sister of the defendant’s father - went to the Ulster Bank in Edgeworthstown to withdraw a sum of money from her account.
When she arrived there, the elderly lady discovered that there was no funds in her account and the clerk on duty noticed there were cheques missing from Ms Edgar’s cheque book.
The matter was subsequently reported to the Gardaí.
The court was told that a garda investigation into the matter immediately ensued and Mr Kenny was arrested in connection with the incident and interviewed.
Judge Johnson heard that the defendant made “full and frank admissions” during interview and he had fully cooperated with the Garda investigation.
Garda Frank Fallon, investigating officer then told the court in his direct evidence that the defendant had stolen a total of €8,020.50 from his aunt.
“Sums of money had been withdrawn on various dates between 2013 and 2014 from the Ulster Bank,” he continued, before pointing out that the bank subsequently reimbursed Ms Edgar so that she was no longer at a loss.
Garda Fallon went on to say that on June 1, 2014 a complaint was made to him by Ms Edgar who had her suspicions about Mr Kenny, whom she said had been doing odd jobs around her house.
“The cheques had been made out to various people including William Kenny and Grainne Kenny; the defendant was making out the cheques himself and then going to McBrien’s Supermarket in Granard, cashing the cheques and then receiving the money.
Staff at the local store never became suspicious because the defendant was well known to them, the court was told.
“The family would have been known by the McBrien’s so they were not in any way suspicious,” the Garda clarified.
Meanwhile, Garda Fallon went on to say that the defendant had “duped” a number of parties as members of his own family thought the cheques were legitimate because they were being lodged to two accounts.
“Mr Kenny said he was genuinely sorry for what he had done; he said that he had taken to the drink after the death of his mother and the money was used for that,” he added.
In her Victim Impact Statement, Kathleen Edgar said that when she discovered she had no money in her bank account she was “in fear”.
She also said the breach of trust caused by her nephew had been devastating for her.
“I would never trust any family member ever again; I want him to get convicted for stealing my money,” she continued.
“I have been depressed since this happened.”
Meanwhile, the court was told that McBrien’s Supermarket also suffered a loss of €300 at the hands of Mr Kenny, however, that money had been reimbursed last November.
In mitigation, counsel for the defendant, Mr Niall Flynn said that the offence before the court had not been in any way sophisticated.
“Mr Kenny saw a cheque book and was opportunistic - he was writing cheques and then cashing them at the local supermarket in Granard,” Mr Flynn continued.
“There has been a breach of trust by Mr Kenny on his aunt and there is not a whole lot I can say to undo that.
“He is genuinely remorseful for what he did; his aunt is an elderly lady whom he took advantage of.”
The court went on to hear that the defendant’s mother died five years ago from cancer and up until that point, Mr Kenny had led an “unblemished life”.
“After his mother died he turned to alcohol,” continued Mr Flynn, before pointing to the fact that it was this that had led the defendant to doing what he did to his aunt.
“The money was restored to Ms Edgar’s account and that is some comfort to her.
“Mr Kenny is well known in the Abbeylara/Granard area as he grew up there and has lived in the area all his life.
“He is unable to read or write; he has had very little schooling and has not had the same opportunities as other people may have had.”
The court was then told that Mr Kenny was in receipt of €193 per week and had already compensated the McBrien’s with €300.
“The probation report indicates that my client is of limited intelligence,” added Mr Flynn.
Meanwhile, Judge Johnson said that Ms Edgar was “disturbed” after what Mr Kenny did to her.
“This was a very mean offence on an elderly lady,” he continued.
“She believed there was a conspiracy by the Kenny family against her; I think it would be important for Garda Fallon to speak to Ms Edgar about this and perhaps reassure her.”
The Judge went on to say that Mr Kenny had stolen €8,000 from his aunt and while Ulster Bank had reimbursed her, the bank was now at a loss as a result of that, and should therefore, be compensated.
“This offence is a very serious breach of trust and Ms Edgar’s whole world has changed as a result of what was done to her,” he added.
“Mr Kenny stole 31 cheques from his aunt over time and this indicates that there was a certain level of premeditation.”
Judge Johnson subsequently sentenced Mr Kenny to three years in prison which he then suspended for seven years on the grounds that the defendant enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
Mr Kenny was also sentenced to 240 hours community service, if he is determined suitable, and ordered to pay €8,000 to Ulster Bank by annual instalments of €1,500 payable on March 1, 2018 and to continue annually until the total amount has been reimbursed.
“This man stole money from his aunt to fund his drinking; it was a mean offence on an elderly lady,” Judge Johnson concluded.