ESB dodging could have led to death
WIRES drilled into ESB metres to stop them recording electricity usage found in four separate homes in Listowel could have led to death, the District Court heard on Thursday.
Four people were prosecuted before Judge James O’Connor for the offence of tampering with metres contrary to the provisions of the Energy Act 2012.
Children were present in at least one of the homes where the exposed wires were used, Judge O’Connor was informed by ESB staff who emphasised that the inspections were carried out to protect life on November 19 of 2014 - rather than for monetary recompense.
The four prosecuted were Susan Purcell of 6 Meelish Close; Bernadette Harty of 36 Curragh Close; Thomas O’Brien of 23 Dowd’s Road and Michael McCarthy of 15 Ashgrove.
Using an example of the metres, ESB officer Catherine Walsh demonstrated to the court how holes were drilled into the face of the device in one of the cases and from under the device in three of the cases for the purposes of inserting a wire to stop the counting disc within from rotating and tracking electricity use.
Criminal damage of €197 was caused in Ms Purcell and Harty’s cases; with criminal damge of €193.99 in Mr O’Brien’s and Mr McCarthy’s cases. Between peak and off-peak periods, Ms Purcell had used over 5,000 unrecorded units (owing €333 from the €1.055 in which she was arrears at the time the offence was detected); Ms Harty 5,752 (owing €1,443 since 2014); Mr O’Brien 5,977 (owing €1,150, not having paid anything since) and Mr McCarthy 3,844 units (owing just €6 having paid everything in full).
“Every time you touch it (the illegal wires) there is a risk of fatality,” Ms Walsh said.
Solicitor Pat Enright said there was no evidence any of the defendants had tampered with the devices themselves and said that Ms Harty - the only one of the four present at the court - had no knowledge of the tampering in her home. The offences carry fines of up to €5,000 and/or six months in jail. The cases were adjourned until December 7 next.