Limerick pensioner terrified when held captive

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A TERRIFIED Limerick pensioner was found in a car near Portlaoise amid claims he had been held captive by his son for almost two weeks, a court has heard.

70-year-old Jimmy O’Connor was reported as missing by relatives in Boston after communication with the Limerick pensioner ceased last month.

His son, James O’Connor, (40) of Lord Edward Street, was arrested and charged with his alleged false imprisonment on dates between May 19 and June 2 and with stealing his credit union savings and pension money totalling €8,150.

The terrified pensioner was found in a car in the Midlands some two weeks after he had been allegedly taken.

During a contested bail hearing at Limerick District Court, defence solicitor Darach McCarthy, sought that the 40-year-old be released on conditions pending the conclusion of the criminal investigation and court proceedings.

Opposing bail before Judge Mary Larkin, Det Garda Brian Culbert of Roxboro Road Garda Station said that on May 29 last, his station received a call from Jimmy O’Connor’s daughter who was living in Boston saying she could not make contact with him and was worried as he was on medication.

This triggered a missing person alert but it initially did not turn up anything.

However, the court heard from that Det Gda Culbert that gardai in Portlaoise got a 999 call from a member of the public concerned about an elderly man.

The elderly man was seen in a car and crying as he told the people who found him, that he was being held against his will. It transpired that the elderly man was Jimmy O’Connor.

The 70-year-old told gardai that he had been held captive against his will and that €7,000 in Credit Union savings had been taken as well as five weeks pension money.

The Limerick pensioner had been found wearing slippers and with food and blankets in the car.

It is alleged that Jimmy O’Connor had been driven around the Midlands, against his will, over a period of time and that he and his son stayed in a number of places including The Gandon Inn, near Portlaoise.

The court heard that Mr O’Connor had allegedly also been held at an apartment complex in Mountmellick and that he was prevented from making contact with family.

Det Gda Culbert said that there is CCTV evidence capturing JImmy O’Connor and his son at a city centre Credit Union on three occasions.

The court heard that it will be the State’s case that the 40-year-old accused is a chronic drug addict, “and dangerously unpredictable”.

Relatives in Limerick, Det Gda Culbert said, had fled their homes in fear of the accused.

However, Judge Mary Larkin said that she would grant bail on certain conditions including that €4,000 in cash be lodged in court along with a further €2,000 independent surety to be approved.

If bail is taken up, the accused must also sign on daily, obey a curfew and stay away from all witnesses associated with the case.

The matter was adjourned to June 27 next.