A man who was convicted under the Theft & Fraud Offences Act before Longford Circuit Court last week received a suspended prison sentence following a hearing into the matter.
Festus Olubiyo with an address in County Cavan appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson where he pleaded guilty to two counts of deception by offering credit cards presented as genuine but which were fraudulent - one at Fox’s Gala, Ballinalee on November 5, 2015, the other at McBrien’s Supermarket, Granard on November 9, 2015.
Outlining the evidence to the court, State prosecutor, Des Dockery BL said that on November 5 last, the accused entered the store in Ballinalee where he chose to purchase bananas and chewing gum.
“When he got to the till, he told the lady there, that he wanted to purchase two €100 Paysafe vouchers,” continued Mr Dockery BL.
“He then handed the lady a Mastercard and told her that the chip wasn’t working and he would have to manually enter the code.
“The sale allowed him to make the purchase, however the next day when the owner of Gala - Declan Fox - rang the bank, he was told that the Mastercard that was accepted had been cloned from a card in Finland.
“He was also told that he would be at a loss as a result of the transaction.”
The court was then told that a few days later, on November 9, the accused travelled towards Granard and subsequently stopped off to purchase a number of items at McBrien’s supermarket located in the heart of the north Longford town.
“While in McBrien’s, Mr Olubiyo ordered two €100 Paysafe vouchers and told the girl on the checkout that the chip wasn’t working on the card but he could enter the pin manually,” Mr Dockery BL added.
“The Paysafe vouchers were printed off, but the owner Michael McBrien was also there and he immediately became suspicious and refused to allow the Mastercard to be used for payment.
“Mr Olubiyo then asked Mr McBrien not to cancel the vouchers and indicated that he would return in one hour with cash for them.”
The court went on to hear that 20 minutes later, the cashier in McBrien’s endeavoured to cancel the Paysafe vouchers but as she was doing so discovered that one of them had already been cashed.
“The accused had taken a photo of the voucher on his phone while in the supermarket and then keyed in the code when he left,” added Mr Dockery who then pointed out that Garda Liam Staunton happened to be passing on the street at the time and observed Mr Olubiyo leaving the store.
“CCTV footage was viewed and the workers at both stores were in a position to identify the accused.”
Mr Dockery BL went on to say that the defendant was subsequently arrested on December 5, 2015 and questioned at Bailieboro Garda Station.
The court heard that there was also a deportation order in place in respect of the accused but it had not been activated due to other legal matters including Mr Olubiyo’s application to the State seeking asylum.
Garda Staunton also told Judge Johnson that the defendant had 28 previous convictions including 18 for theft; three for driving with no insurance and seven for other road traffic matters.
The court also heard that the defendant had handed in €300 to the Gardaí in recompense to the County Longford shop owners.
In mitigation, the defendant’s barrister, Mr O’Sullivan BL said that his client came to Ireland eight years ago and for the first six of those years, “Never came to the attention of the Gardaí”.
“It was only after his child was born that he encountered financial hardship; he has never been entitled to employment and as they say, ‘The devil makes work for idle hands’,” Mr O’Sullivan BL continued.
“He did turn to criminality, but he wasn’t very successful at it because on each attempt at criminality, he was apprehended.”
Mr O’Sullivan BL went on to tell the court that his client was genuinely remorseful about what happened.
Counsel said that Mr Olubiyo had made full restitution in respect of the matter before the court, and now lived quietly with his partner and child in Cavan.
“I am asking you judge not to impose a custodial sentence; he has other matters before the courts and is hoping to make restitution in all of these matters,” continued Mr O’Sullivan BL.
“He will need time to be able to do that.”
During his deliberations on the matter, Judge Johnson said that the accused struck him as being like somebody driving in a vehicle and picking up penalty points as he drives around.
“He went on a spree, didn’t he?”, added the Judge.
“He has pleaded guilty to both charges, however there was a considerable degree of connivance involved in what he did.
“These are serious charges in that it is difficult enough for retailers to make a living these days without Mr Olubiyo carrying on like that.
“It appears to me that the accused was on a role when he was apprehended by Garda Staunton.
“Those seeking asylum in this country are being forced to live on €19 per week and this is something that really needs to be looked at.”
The Judge subsequently sentenced the defendant to four years in prison on each charge but reduced the term to two years and eight months which he then suspended for five years on the condition the accused enter into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and pay €1,000 to St Mel’s Conference, St Vincent de Paul. The matter will appear back before Judge Johnson on February 2. next.