A BANDON man who tried to sell booklets for an animal charity to two off-duty gardaí did so in a pushy manner, a court heard.
Tony O’Brien (31) of 13 Rosewood Lawn, Bandon pleaded guilty to two offences at Clonakilty District Court last week – that he failed to produce an authorisation to act as a collector and that he did act as a collector in an unauthorised collection, contrary to the House to House Collections Act.
Sgt Paul Kelly told the court that on April 17th last year Gda Kevin Kennedy and a colleague were in the Teapot Café in Dunmanway when they were approached by the accused. ‘He said he was selling calendars for GARC (Glansillagh Animal Rescue Centre) for €10 and he was unaware that they were off-duty gardaí,’ said Sgt Kelly. ‘They declined to buy them but he was very pushy towards them and he also tried to sell to other people in the café.’
‘Gardaí learned that he had been previously unpleasant and pushy to people in the town. Gda Kennedy met the defendant and asked him for his permit which he didn’t have, and declined to give his address or date of birth, but did so later at the station.’
The court heard that the calendar was in fact an information booklet and the defendant denied asking people for donations while selling the booklet.
‘Gardaí found a notebook in his backpack with a list of names and money recorded and €180 in cash tied with an elastic band. They also contacted Adrian Lenihan, who acted as an agent for the charity, and he said he had advised the accused that he should not look for donations and was aware of a number of complaints against him.’
Solicitor Conrad Murphy said his client was entitled to sell information booklets, but the offence is that he asked for donations afterwards.
Judge John King said it sounded like a ‘very loose arrangement’ and that the company ‘didn’t do much of a vetting on its employees.’
The court heard the accused has four previous convictions, including theft and trespassing into Dunmanway Garda Station.
Mr Murphy handed into the court letters from his client’s doctors and said his client is on disability.
‘It doesn’t appear that he was trying to defraud anyone and my client is a vulnerable individual and was in need of money and he was allowed to keep a percentage of the money he got for selling the booklets. He went a bit far asking people to buy them.’
Judge King, who queried if the accused lacked some insight, said he would direct a probation report and adjourned the case to October 6th.
‘He’d want to be developing a bit of insight,’ said Judge King.