Guilty plea | 

Dad of feud murder suspect claimed his disability benefit for a year after he fled the country, court told

The court heard Thomas McConnell “couldn't come out of the house because he was involved in an enterprise that put him in danger”.
Thomas 'Nicky' McConnell

Thomas 'Nicky' McConnell

Isabel Hayes

The father of man wanted for a Hutch/Kinahan feud murder, continued to claim his disability benefit for about a year after his son left the country, a court has heard.

David McConnell was yesterday given a two year suspended sentence for claiming disability benefit for his son, Thomas 'Nicky' McConnell, after his son left the jurisdiction.

'Nicky' McConnell is currently fighting his extradition from Turkey after he was arrested there last August over the murder of Gareth Hutch in May 2016.

The Ballymun man was arrested in the Turkish holiday resort of Kusadasi on foot of an arrest warrant and was being housed in the tough Soke Prison.

Garda Cathal Connolly told the court yesterday that David McConnell dishonestly claimed the disability benefit for about a year, defrauding the state of just over €8700, Garda Cathal Connolly told the court.

David McConnell, 76, with an address at Silloge Gardens, Ballymun, pleaded guilty to four counts of dishonestly inducing the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to issue a weekly disability payment of €203 at Ballymun post office on dates between April 10, 2019 and January 8, 2020.

He has 11 previous convictions dating from 1962 to 1989, including larceny and burglary, the court heard.

Gareth Hutch.

Gareth Hutch.

Gda Connolly told Kieran Kelly BL, prosecuting, that David McConnell attended his GP on behalf of his son to get him signed off for disability benefit. The court heard Thomas McConnell “couldn't come out of the house because he was involved in an enterprise that put him in danger”.

“He couldn't leave the house because of a feud,” Gda Connolly said. As a result of this, Thomas McConnell was deemed to have a psychological condition and a “fear of other persons”, the court heard.

Rebecca Smith BL, defending, said her client believed he was entitled to keep collecting the money after his son left the jurisdiction. She said he gave the money to his son's partner to help care for his grand-daughter.

The court heard McConnell's wife of 44 years left him around the time he was charged with these offences and he had to leave the family home. He was effectively homeless for a year until he found accommodation.

Sentencing McConnell, Judge Martin Nolan said McConnell had been collecting the money for his son who “had some sort of mental condition which wouldn't let him leave the house”.

“It seems one day he (the son) did leave the house,” the judge said. “And this man continued to get money for about a year.”

The judge accepted that McConnell had taken the money to support his grand-daughter and was unlikely to reoffend. He said he did not think it would be right to jail a 76-year-old man in this instance.

“The life expectancy of a male is 81. Everybody can do the maths,” the judge said.

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