ESB dodg­ing could have led to death

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - NEWS - By COURT RE­PORTER

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.

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