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Farmer stole leather skirt and coat from neighbour

Joe Usher
Joe Usher

THIS IS the bachelor farmer whose bizarre appetite for his neighbour’s leather skirt, coats and garments has plunged a tiny rural community into turmoil.

Farmer Joe Usher, of Cooney’s Cross, Ballybeg Small, Wexford, this week brushed off a suspended sentence he received for engaging in a four-year burglary campaign against his highly respected neighbour and employer Marianne Murphy.

In the course of nine separate acts of burglary, Usher stole a leather skirt, coats and other clothing items belonging to Ms Murphy, after entering her family home without her knowledge while she and her family were out.

Murphy offered no apology for his clothes-swiping antics when confronted by the Sunday World at his farmhouse on Thursday.

“No, I don’t want to discuss it. I’m not going there at all,” he said.

“I’m not going to talk about it anywhere. It might be unusual, but I’ve nothing to say about it.

“That’s it, I’m not saying no more.”

Previously, Judge John Cheatle at Wexford District Court had heard how Usher had repeatedly, and without her knowledge, made his way into Ms Murphy’s home to remove women’s clothing.

The prosecution came as a result of complaints made to Gardaí in Castlebridge from Ms Murphy, who reported that coats and other garments had been stolen from her over a period of years.

The matter came to a head after Usher was found in the house by her daughter when she returned home unexpectedly.

Security cameras were installed which also picked up Usher stealing a leather skirt while the residents were away attending a wedding.

Coats were found at the home of the defendant, leading to his arrest and admissions that he was responsible for the thefts.

The court learned that he committed nine burglaries over a period of four years.

The garments, though recovered, had been cut into strips and were no longer wearable.

Usher did not break into the house as he had a key and his activities were assisted by the fact that he was aware of the family’s movements.

Solicitor June O’Hanlon, appearing for the accused, accepted that what occurred was a breach of trust, but pointed out in mitigation that Usher had no criminal record.

A sum of €600 was offered by way of compensation by a man described as single and living a lonely life.

He worked as a farmer, raising cattle, said Ms O’Hanlon, who felt that the burglaries became a habit and did not indicate any grudge held by her client.

Judge John Cheatle remarked it was a serious matter, but he decided to suspend the five months imprisonment.

A source close to the Murphy family said Marianne would not be willing to discuss the details of the case.

“It’s very, very sensitive and not something, I think, that Marianne would like to discuss,” they said.

“This is a small community and we are all neighbours. I think she would rather just forget about this now.”