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Plot thickens in stolen honey court case as defendant says it ‘wasn’t theft’

January 2nd, 2022 3:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

The case was heard at Skibbereen District Court. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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A MAN who was given an opportunity to pay €300 to make amends for the theft of six jars of honey refused to do so, and a bond for the appeal of his district court conviction was set in the sum of €500 in cash.

At the end of November, Judge James McNulty told the accused John Delee (52) of Coornishal, Skibbereen, that he found a charge of stealing six jars of honey – the property of market trader Ita O’Shea at the Farmers’ Market in Skibbereen on September 5th 2020 – to be ‘proven.’

But the judge, at Skibbereen District Court, did not impose a penalty straight away. He adjourned the case to the December court to give the accused a chance to pay the €42 he owed for the honey, plus €258 to compensate the owner for the amount of time she had to spend on the matter, as well as the indignity of giving evidence in a criminal matter in the district court.

But the accused refused. He was adamant that he had not stolen the honey. After putting the six jars into his rucksack, he said he discovered he had lost his wallet and the stall holder said that was ‘okay’ that he would go in search of it.

This was disputed when evidence was given at the previous court. Ita O’Shea said he told her he had to go to the ATM to get money.

Ita O’Shea also said she gave John Delee an opportunity to resolve matters by putting €42 in an envelope with her name on it at the local garda station.

‘The court was satisfied that the accused had not only taken a liberty but that he had committed an offence also,’ said Judge McNulty.

The judge maintained the stall holder’s consent was conditional on John Delee going to the ATM and coming back to pay.

From the body of the court, the accused indicated most emphatically that he would not be paying the €300. ‘I am not going to pay that because I didn’t steal the honey,’ he said.

The judge fined him €500 on the theft charge saying, ‘It all could have been dealt with much more efficiently 13 months ago without the drama or the playacting.’

The accused, who was legally represented by Ray Hennessy solicitor, challenged the judge’s use of the term ‘playacting’ and said he would be appealing the conviction to the circuit court.

Recognisances were fixed for appeal in the accused’s own bond of €500 in cash.

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