Husband and wife with sob stories sentenced after stealing from elderly Dublin women

by Gazette Reporter

A man who conned hundreds of thousands of euro out of two elderly women, including the life-savings of one, by telling them a series of “sob stories” has been jailed for five years.

Gerry O’Brien (41) convinced his victims that he was due to receive a substantial pay-out from an insurance claim before he stole €107,286 and €27,254 from them over a number of months.

His wife, Joanne O’Brien (39), stole a total of €900 from one of the women on two occasions. She was given a suspended nine-month sentence.

Gerry O’Brien told the women various stories to convince them to hand over money in the form of cheques and cash, including that he needed a deposit for a house, needed medical care, needed to drill holes in his walls for an oxygen machine and had been evicted.

He convinced his victims that he would pay them back with the fictitious pay-out.

At one point, O’Brien paid “a young fella” to pose as a solicitor and phone the women to confirm this tale, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard previously.

Gerry O’Brien, of Belmont Close, Ballyguile, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty to one count of stealing €107,286 in cash and cheques by deception from a 77-year-old Dublin woman between July 2017 and November 2018.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of stealing €27,254 in cash and cheques by deception from a 73-year-old Dublin woman between August and November 2018.

Joanne O’Brien, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from the first complainant on December 23, 2017 and July 12, 2018.

Sentencing the pair on Monday last Judge Pauline Codd said Gerry O’Brien had left the woman financially insecure in their twilight years.

“This is a particularly despicable and mean offence against two pensioners, which involved significant preying upon two elderly ladies,” the judge said.

She noted Gerry O’Brien had engaged in the “psychological manipulation” of his victims and used other people to help him in his deception.

She noted he took a substantial amount of money from his victims and “frittered it away” on his own addictions. “Their trust and security is gone,” she said, as she handed down a five-year jail term.

In relation to Joanne O’Brien, Judge Codd accepted it was a very different case and that, while Joanne O’Brien aided her husband’s lies, she stole on two occasions only and spent the money on rent and her children.

Marc Murphy BL, defending Joanne O’Brien, said his client had repaid the €900 she stole.

Judge Codd handed down a nine-month sentence and suspended it on a number of conditions.

Seoirse O Dunlaing BL, defending Gerry O’Brien, said his client was extremely remorseful for his actions. A psychological report and a letter of remorse were handed into court. Judge Codd said the letter contained “no remorse to the two ladies whose kindness he exploited”. 

“This letter is just about his woes,” she said.

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