A Crossmolina man pleaded guilty in Ballina District Court to stealing over €1,500 from his friend’s parents, who took him in when his own parents were going through a difficult period.
Brendan O’Brien of Coolturk, Crossmolina, was well known to Eamon and Martina Duffy as a close friend of their son, and in June 2009 when family problems were occurring he moved in with them.
On July 23, 2009, Mr Duffy noticed that €500 was missing from a secure coded safe in the bedroom of the home. He was confused by this as only he and his wife knew the code.
On August 8, a further €45 went missing from the safe. A day later, another €300 was taken. On August 27, a total of €260 brought the unexplained amount missing from the safe to €1510.
On September 5, 2009, after being arrested in relation to missing money, Brendan O’Brien made a voluntary caution statement and admitted to Garda Adrian Kearns that he took the money.
Brendan O’Brien told Judge Devins that he suffers from schizophrenia, and that in August 2009 he had been wrongly diagnosed as having ADHD and was prescribed the wrong medication. O’Brien said that this resulted in a lot of dizzy spells and his memory was also affected. He added, “It’s not the medication’s fault, I took the money.”
O’Brien said he was now living in Cnoc Na Oir, Rahoon, in Galway city, that he is regularly seeing a psychiatrist and a local GP, and that he has secured work with a security firm.
When Judge Devins asked if the money – which O’Brien admitted he had ‘blown’ on clothes and nights out eas paid back- She was told that it had not. However, she was told that O’Brien had just started to work full-time after working on a part-time basis for a considerable period, and it was his intention to return the money as soon as possible.
Judge Devins adjourned the case until May 8 and ordered that a probation report be compiled on the defendant in the intervening period. She also directed that O’Brien repay the money in full and forward a letter of apology to the injured parties before the next sitting.