Repairs to gutters cost Dublin woman €43,600

 

A CO MEATH man who charged a 78-year-old woman over €43,000 for repairs to leaking gutters when it should have cost €1,800 has escaped a jail sentence.

Stephen Coffey (27), previously of Beech Drive, Navan, and now living in Sweden, received a two-year suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court from Judge Patricia Ryan.

He pleaded guilty to four charges of dishonesty with the intention of making a gain for himself and causing a loss to another, inducing the woman to hand over cash totalling €43,600 at her home in Stillorgan, Dublin, on dates between November 27th and December 4th, 2008.

The woman, a retired bank official, withdrew the money from her life savings when Coffey said he needed more money for the work. She told gardaí she thought he was “a nice man” and still held this opinion of him.

Coffey gave the woman a gift of bath salts after he had received the final payment. He has since paid back the full amount.

The woman took the case to the High Court, and was awarded €45,000, which included €15,000 in legal costs.

Coffey paid over the outstanding balance of €13,600 in court yesterday.

Laurence Masterson, defending, said Coffey has since moved with his wife and two children to Sweden, where he had set up a successful business.

He said his client had done something he was deeply ashamed of, and now had a stain on his character and reputation.

Judge Ryan said Coffey had “taken advantage of a lady of a certain age who was of a trusting disposition”.

She said she realised Coffey had carried out some work on the lady’s roof, but said this could be another present from him in addition to the bath salts he had already given her.

Judge Ryan accepted that Coffey had a gambling addiction at the time, and acknowledged that the woman was now at no financial loss.