Hike sentence

Jail sentence for Limerick man who tried to cash stolen bank check

A COUNTY Limerick man who attempted to cash a stolen check for several thousand euros has been jailed for three years.

At a sentencing hearing, Judge Patrick Meghen was told Patrick O’Brien, 39, of Hillview Drive, Abbeyfeale presented the check – denominated for €7,500 – at the branch (now closed) of the Bank of Ireland in Abbeyfeale.

The stolen check was linked to the account of an elderly woman who lived in Mullingar, County Westmeath.

Garda David Stone said gardai was contacted after a Bank of Ireland employee in Abbeyfeale became suspicious when Mr O’Brien arrived at the branch on April 24, 2019 and presented the check for deposit on his own account.

He said the defendant’s account was overdrawn and there was only one previous deposit. “It raised a red flag,” he said, adding that the bank clerk had halted the transaction and contacted colleagues at Mullingar to do further research.

Garda Stone said it was later established that the check was one of four that had been stolen and was “clearly never made out” to Mr O’Brien.

Judge Meghen heard that another of the stolen cheques, which was made out to someone else, “had been passed on”, but the bank had since refunded the account holder.

Garda Stone said a garda investigation had been opened and authorities believed the four checks had been stolen, weeks earlier, by a number of men who had called the injured party’s home to offer to clean the gutters.

He said the woman, who has since died, was in poor health and used to sign checks with her name at the time.

“She couldn’t walk, she had poor hearing,” Garda Stone told prosecutor Lily Buckley BL, adding that she was indeed cared for by her brother.

Lawyer Kenny Kerins said Mr O’Brien, who has several previous convictions, made no financial profit from his actions and he argued there was no evidence he was involved in the theft of checks.

After taking note of the defendant’s guilty plea and personal circumstances, Judge Meghen handed down a three-year prison sentence which was backdated to reflect the time Mr O’Brien has already served in custody.