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home wrecker Tenant-from-hell who removed rafters and dug up floor says he wanted to change guilty plea

The brazen property destroyer made the claim after he was freed from Cork Prison on Thursday.

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Denis O’Connor handed over €13,000.

Denis O’Connor handed over €13,000.

Our reporter talks to O’Connor.

Our reporter talks to O’Connor.

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Denis O’Connor handed over €13,000.

Tenant-from-hell Denis O'Connor, who gutted a family's house by stripping it of its kitchen and removing 27 rafters, emerged from prison this week bizarrely claiming he wanted to take back his guilty plea.

The brazen property destroyer made the claim after he was freed from Cork Prison on Thursday - hours after presenting a draft for €13,000 in compensation to victims Audrey O'Mahony and her family at Cork Circuit Court.

He blasted to the Sunday World: "I met more honest people in there (prison) than on the outside."

He also claimed there was more to the case than meets the eye and added: "I also tried to change my plea and he (the judge) wouldn't allow it."

On Thursday, Judge Seán Ó Donnabhain ordered the release of O'Connor, who had spent two months in prison awaiting sentence, after hearing the 67-year-old paid €13,000 in pledged compensation.


The judge imposed a sentence of two years with the outstanding 22 months suspended.

At a previous hearing, Cork Circuit Court heard how ­O'Connor had put the O'Mahony family through "living hell".

The pensioner began renting their cottage at Ballinspittle in Cork six years ago.

Ms O'Mahony told the court she believed he intended to get permanent possession of her home through unethical means.

O'Connor pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to the house by removing its roof rafters and damaging floors and various fittings between 5 December, 2015 and 23 July, 2018.

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Trapped

He also pleaded guilty to the theft of a fitted kitchen worth €1,000, which he removed from the single-storey cottage to replace with his own kitchen.

He removed this kitchen when he left, leaving the house with no proper cooking area.

Garda Cormac Dineen said the O'Mahonys had previously moved from the cottage to a home in Clonakilty and then put it up for rent.

O'Connor, a handyman, began renting the house in 2015.

He agreed to do some minor repairs with the consent of the owners. However, the court heard the family did not give him permission to carry out some of the works he completed.

This included removing the rafters and taking up a hall floor, leaving the family with a €16,000 damages bill. The garda said O'Connor left more than a year after he had stopped paying rent.

Defence barrister Donal O'Sullivan said his client was a discharged bankrupt who was apologetic for his actions. O'Connor handed over €13,000 in compensation.

Ms O'Mahony claimed he deliberately damaged the house so they couldn't sell it to anyone else but him at a reduced price.

She said it was almost four years since O'Connor threatened that "things were going to get nasty" and he had made her family's lives "a living hell".

"Our worst fear became a reality when we finally got our home back. On that morning, 23 July, 2018, my world caved in on top of me," she told the court.

"The discovery of the very serious and dangerous damage to the attic where he removed 27 rafters was the last straw.

"Homelessness was high on my mind at that time. We feared we would lose both the rental house and our own family home if we could not sell the rental and pay our escalating linked mortgages debt to the bank.

"We were trapped in a never-ending nightmare."

She said the family had to cut back on groceries, clothes and heating. She also said the stress caused her to collapse and be taken to hospital.

The judge said that he had a huge amount of sympathy for the family.

However, accounting for O'Connor's guilty plea, his lack of previous convictions and payment of compensation, he jailed the accused for two years, suspending the entirety of the sentence.

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