TWO cousins who used a ‘high-pressure sales technique’ to sell a power washer to an elderly farmer living near Timoleague and who later forged the cheque given to them had their ‘unsophisticated’ scam foiled by alert bank staff in Clonakilty.
Thomas Kealy, 1A Fairhill, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick and Thomas Kealy, Long Bow Caravan Park, Main St, Miltown, New Lark, England, both pleaded guilty to one charge in relation to the incident at a recent sitting of Clonakilty District Court.
Insp Fergal Foley told the court that on November 24th both men went to the home of a farmer outside Timoleague and used ‘high pressure sales technique’ to sell the man a power washer. The farmer wrote out a cheque to them for €200 and they presented the cheque to a bank official in the Bank of Ireland in Clonakilty. However, only the numerical part of the cheque of €200 was filled in and the defendants changed it to read €2,100.
Insp Foley said that staff knew the farmer who had written the cheque and had their suspicions about it and refused to cash it and or hand it back. Both defendants then left the bank without the cheque.
Two staff members then went to the home of the farmer who told them what happened and they alerted the gardaí who intercepted the cousins driving a van at a garda checkpoint on the Clonakilty to Rosscarbery road.
Insp Foley said the victim of this deception is an ‘elderly, vulnerable man’ who was afraid to come to court for the case. Insp Foley also said that there were certain admissions for both defendants that helped progress the case but he said ‘both denied they could read or write.’ The court was told that they were refused bail by both the District Court and by the High Court following their arrest and had been in custody since November 25th.
Judge David Waters commented on the alertness of the bank staff who noticed that something wasn’t right when the two defendants presented the cheque at the bank.
The court was told that the younger of two cousins, Thomas Kealy, (24) who lives in England had a recent conviction for fraud in Germany where he was fined €500. His older cousin Thomas Kealy (28), who lives in Limerick had a number of convictions for deception with the most recent being in 2005 when he was 17-years-old.
Solicitor Myra Dinneen said it wasn’t a nice thing to happen and the cousins apologised to the court and she said their plan was ‘unsophisticated.’
‘They quite stupidly wrote the cheque and stupidly went into Bank of Ireland and I’m not for one second taking away from this. They are facing a prison sentence and both are married,’ said Myra Dinneen.
‘The eldest Thomas Kealy has not been convicted of an offence since 2005 and the younger Thomas Kealy said his recent conviction in Germany was over a mobile phone contract.’
Judge David Waters said that was not his principle concern and that it was the fact that the defendants called to a man and put pressure on him and who is since in fear.
‘It’s not the fraudulent use of the cheque and this is at the high end of the District Court,’ said Judge Waters.
‘I’m aware they were refused bail and I’m very slow to suspend sentence, if they had form I would jail them for six months.’
Myra Dinneen said the time they have spent in jail has reinforced to them the seriousness of the charge.
‘I’m asking you to accept their apology as weak as it may sound but they have put their hands up. Can you suspend a sentence with conditions attached to it?’ asked Myra Dinneen.
Judge Waters said he doesn’t believe in conditions attached to suspended sentences and that in the circumstances he would not consider a suspended sentence as ‘it’s on the high end of the District Court.’
Judge Waters sentenced the younger Thomas Kealy to three months imprisonment which was backdated to November 24th and he sentenced the older Thomas Kealy to two months in prison, also backdated to November 24th. Recognisances in the event of an appeal was fixed at €1,000 with one surety of €1,000 or cash in lieu.