Tipperary goalkeeper admits taking €10,000 from elderly man

All-Ireland hurler Darren Gleeson given three and a half year suspended sentence

A three-and-a-half year suspended prison sentence has been imposed on Tipperary hurling goalkeeper Darren Gleeson after he admitted obtaining €10,000 by deception from an elderly man.

Nenagh circuit court heard on Tuesday that the All-Ireland winning player had a “significant gambling problem” for which he has been in counselling since 2015, having made a “large number of transactions” with Paddy Power, and also lost money through investments made prior to the economic crash.

The 36-year-old, who is due to line out for the defending All-Ireland champions in their qualifier match against Westmeath on Saturday, pleaded guilty on Tuesday morning to a breach of section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

Gleeson, from Shesharoe, Portroe, Co Tipperary, had been charged with two counts of stealing a total of €32,000 from a Timothy Heenan (80) in 2013, and two alternate counts of obtaining the same monies by deception.

Justin Dillon SC, for the State indicated that the plea to one count of deception, relating to a sum of €10,000, was acceptable to the DPP, subject to the facts of the other deception charge being put before the court. The State has entered a nolle prosequi in relation to the theft charges.

Gleeson was Tipp’s goalkeeper when they beat Kilkenny in last year’s All-Ireland final and was a substitute when they won against the same opposition in 2010. He has also won six Munster championship medals, an All-Star award and a league medal.

Detective Garda Martin Connolly told the court that, on different dates in 2013, Timothy Heenan had separate sums of €10,000 and €22,000 to invest. He gave cheques in these amounts to Gleeson, who was the director of a financial services company in Nenagh at the time. One cheque was made out to “D Gleeson” and the other to “Darren Gleeson”.

The Garda told the court that there appeared to be some over-writing or under-writing on the €22,000 cheque, with the letters “PTSB,” for Permanent TSB, visible underneath.

He was asked to investigate the matter after Gleeson’s own bank contacted the gardaí with “concerns” about transactions. He met up with Gleeson a number of times, on a voluntary basis, and on one occasion the accused said he had been given the money by Mr Heenan “as a loan”. He also said Mr Heenan and himself signed a loan agreement.

This was put to Mr Heenan who said the money “was not a loan” and was meant to be invested.

During one Garda interview, Gleeson was asked if he had “a problem with gambling” as he was spending “vast amounts of money”.

The accused replied “I won’t deny I had a problem with gambling. I’m in the process of recovering from a problem I had with gambling, but I never asked for money for gambling.”

Gleeson’s bank statements showed “a very large number of transactions in favour of Paddy Power,” the court heard, and in one statement a credit amount of €48,000 had reduced to €23,000 “in a short period of time”.

The money received from Mr Heenan had since been repaid, with interest, the court heard. Mr Heenan didn’t want to see Gleeson go to prison and wanted him to continue hurling.

The court heard that Mr Gleeson’s career in finance is over and he has since secured employment with a mechanical services company. His employer, John Lenihan, gave evidence on his behalf and said he was an “exceptional” employee.

Judge Teehan said the most “glaring” aggravating factor was the “abuse of trust” committed by Gleeson against Mr Heenan and that the total of €32,000 was “a not insignificant amount,” while the subterfuge involved and the explanations about it being a loan were also aggravating circumstances.

He put the matter “towards the bottom of the top range” for such offences. Mitigating factors were the guilty plea, his co-operation with gardaí, the apology to Mr Heenan, and that he was in rehabilitation since 2015.

He imposed a three-and-a-half year prison sentence, suspended for three and a half years, and told Gleeson to keep the peace for that time, continue attending counselling, and not to gamble in any form.