Man who stole north Longford pensioner's life savings handed 240 hours community service order

A man who stole over €500,000 from a north Longford pensioner has been given a 240 hours community service order.

PJ Devine, Ballybay, Co Monaghan appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson pleading 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 valued at £54,000 in 2004.

Mr Devine also pleaded guilty to stealing £5,000 from another north Longford couple in May 1999.

During this week’s hearing Mr Smith SC for the defendant said his client had been paying €50 per week by direct debit into the estate of Mr Kyne - who died in 2014 - since the last court sitting and he had also provided the estate with €115,000 - the defendant’s share of the proceeds from the sale of the family home in Co Donegal.

During his judgement Judge Johnson said the case before him was “very serious”.

“All of this fed Mr Devine’s gambling addiction and drink problem,” fumed the Judge, before pointing out that the court took on board that the defendant was now sober.

“There is €489k still owing to the estate of Mr Kyne and in reality those monies will never be reimbursed to the victim’s estate; that is a travesty.”

Judge Johnson went on to say that the defendant too had suffered as he had lost his home and was now living over a public house in Ballybay.

“It is clear that these offences were as a direct consequence of his addictions and I don’t think that it is in the interest of society or indeed the Kyne family to hand down a custodial sentence in this case,” continued the Judge.

“Mr Devine has been deemed suitable for community service and I am handing down 240 hours in lieu of three years in prison.

“You will be paying this debt off for the rest of your life Mr Devine.”

During a previous hearing the court heard from Detective Garda Jim Donaldson who investigated the matter and discovered investment bonds that appeared to be making money for Mr Kyne, but were in fact not genuine.

Mr Devine was arrested in 2014 and made full admissions to gardaí.

He said; “I took the money; I had debts and I used the money to pay those debts. I had intended to pay the money back.”

He also added, “I gambled hard; I drank hard, I wasn’t supporting anyone else”.

The court also heard that when Mr Devine sold his home place in Aughnacliffe, he drank and gambled away the money and then tried desperately to hide the situation from his wife.

Detective Garda Donaldson told the court that Mr Devine’s marriage has since broken up but that he had turned his life around by spending time in Cuan Mhuire.

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