Man smashed 28 television screens in bookmakers with a hammer

by Padraig Conlon

A man who smashed 28 television  screens in a bookmakers with a hammer after he was not given winnings he believed he was owed has been given a suspended sentence.

John Farrell (47), who caused €10,400 in damage, was “raging” about not getting his winnings. He felt the bet he had put on had not been processed properly and placed on the wrong race.

Farrell, of Barnwell Drive, Ballymun, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage at Boyle Sports, Ballymun Road on September 6, 2016.

Farrell has 25 previous convictions. The most recent, handling stolen property, was recorded in 2001.

Garda Keith Morris told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that Farrell came to the shop that morning and handed in a docket for a treble bet looking to collect his winnings.

The staff member pointed out to him that the first horse in the first race had not won so it was not a winning ticket.

He was not happy when she handed the ticket back to him and said it was not a winner.

The woman served some other customers before scanning the ticket for Farrell again and explaining to him as the first horse on the ticket had not won the whole bet was lost.

Farrell muttered something under his breath before telling her: “Wait until you locking up the door on your own I will be there.” The whole interaction lasted three or four minutes before he left.

Farrell returned in the afternoon and gave the ticket to a different staff member and was again told the ticket was not a winner.

“If you are not going to pay me I will take it out on the screens,” said Farrell. who was carrying a black bag. He took out a hammer and started smashing television screens. Staff went into a back room and continued to hear smashing. They activated a panic alarm.

After Farrell left there were 28 screens of different sizes smashed, as well as three panes of glass broken at the front of the shop. The damage was valued at €10,450.

Farrell was nominated as the person involved and told gardai he had been having a difficult time. He said he felt the bet he had put on had not been processed properly and was “very ticked off and raging” about not getting his winnings. He said he was sorry but felt he had no other option at the time.

Seoirse O Dunlaing BL, defending, said his client, who is receiving treatment for an aggressive form of cancer, had felt the money was owed to him. He said Farrell made full admissions and has not come to garda attention again.

Mr O Dunlaing handed a letter from Fr Peter McVerry into court on his client’s behalf.

Judge Melanie Greally said the case had “a few exceptional features.” She said the “serious incident” had been prompted by rage after discovering one of the bets had been placed on the wrong race.

She said he was understandably highly upset a mistake had been made but his reaction was vastly out of proportion. She said it had been costly and distressing for all involved and staff members.

She said it was quite exceptional Farrell had not transgressed since 2001 and this offence was out of character with his recent past, noting a staff member had described him as a quiet customer.

Judge Greally took into account the contents of Fr McVerry’s letter, his guilty plea and co-operation. She noted he was receiving the help he needed and was unlikely to come before the courts again.

She said it was an incident that in the normal course would attract a custodial sentence but in Farrell’s “particular circumstances” she imposed a four year suspended sentence.

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