A 43-YEAR-old accountant who works for Apple who had his case dismissed – on his birthday – for stealing €6.85 worth of petrol from a garage in Bandon ended up getting a dressing down by a District Court Judge about his attire in court.
Judge James McNulty had been dealing with the case of Eoin Carroll with an address at Skevanish, Innishannon at a recent sitting of Bandon District Court. Following his dismissal of two charges facing Mr Carroll, he asked him about his attire and said he was surprised he wasn’t wearing a tie and jacket in court. Mr Carroll, who was wearing a white shirt and trousers, told Judge McNulty that he works in Apple.
‘Maybe that is the dress code in Apple but I’m astonished that you would come here without a shirt or tie,’ said Judge McNulty.
Mr Carroll had faced two charges: that on April 21st last year at Kevin O’Leary’s Garage, Irishtown, Bandon that having obtained petrol to the value of €6.85 he drove off without paying; and he was also charged with stealing petrol to the value of €6.85. Mr Carroll denied the charges and said he had simply forgot to pay the petrol after filling up a canister at the garage that day.
Basil Blennerhassett of Kevin O’Leary’s Garage told the court that on April 21st last year he saw the defendant on CCTV filling a petrol can and return to his car and not pay for it.
‘He parked the car in a car space, took out a petrol can, filled it and went back to his car and he didn’t come near the shop. I then contacted the gardaí,’ said Mr Blennerhassett.
‘It was an Audi and I was able to get the registration, which I passed onto the gardaí. The amount of €6.85 was then paid a few months later on July 9th.’
Gda Gavin Daly said he was contacted by the filling station about the theft and he later viewed the incident on CCTV. He told the court that he called to the defendant’s address but was told he wasn’t living there and he also made enquiries through An Post about his address.
‘I caused a warning to be put out on his car and Mr Carroll made contact with me in July and came to meet me by appointment and I took a voluntary statement from him,’ said Gda Daly.
Gda Daly read out the statement where Mr Carroll said that he had filled the can for his chainsaw and forgot to pay for it. He said that the first thing he knew about it was when he was stopped by gardaí on the Mallow Rd months later. Mr Carroll said he sincerely apologised for what happened and that it was a genuine mistake.
Mr Carroll’s solicitor, Plunkett Taaffe, said that when his client was made aware of what had happened, he made contact with the gardaí in Bandon the following day. He also added that he had told An Post to re-direct his post and Gda Daly confirmed there was a breakdown in relation to this.
‘I did not drive into the petrol station that day to deliberately not pay for the petrol and I’ve never been in court before,’ said Mr Carroll.
Mr Taaffe said his client was offered an adult caution but he wasn’t willing to accept that as it admitted culpability on his part.
Insp Pat Meany said that the evidence before the court was that the accused filled up his petrol canister and drove off as opposed to going into the shop and forgetting to pay.
However, Mr Carroll said he drove away and forgot to pay and he didn’t know what happened that day and added that his wife had only a baby weeks before that.
Judge McNulty said he was hoping there would be an explanation for what happened and asked Mr Carroll if he was suffering from any illness or early signs of dementia at the time. Mr Carroll said he wasn’t suffering from anything and that he was probably pre-occupied at the time as his wife was recovering after the birth of their child.
Judge McNulty concluded that the court could not be satisfied that Mr Carroll had the intention not to pay for the petrol, and he accepted his evidence that it was a honest mistake ‘caused by momentary forgetfulness’ and dismissed the charges against him.