Burglary gang member receives disability pension for lactose intolerance, court hears
A judge has described the government’s payment of a disability pension to a Limerick burglar gang member as “extraordinary” because he is lactose intolerant.
Judge Eoin Garavan told Ennis Circuit Court after hearing that Edward Woodland received disability allowance because of his lactose intolerance: “I am sure the taxpayer will be pleased to know that the Department of Social Welfare pays disability allowance for lactose intolerance.”
Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem in which the body cannot digest lactose, a type of sugar found primarily in milk and dairy products.
Judge Garavan said, “The less talked about it the better, but it appears to be an exceptional reason for obtaining a Social Security payment.”
He made his comments while convicting Woodland, 23, and three accomplices for breaking into a remote farmhouse in Ballyveskill, Tiermaclane, Co Clare on January 5, 2018. All four pleaded guilty to burglary and burglary.
Three of the burglars, father and son Patrick, 48, and Edward Woodland, along with Paul Kiely, 35, fled the farmhouse after discovering that the only occupant, James (Jimmy) O’Connor, 97, was im bed was asleep.
At around 3:30 p.m., the attackers kicked in the door of the home and picked a lock before searching the property looking for cash. Then they discovered Mr. O’Connor’s presence.
All three were caught in the act by Gardaí trying to escape through the fields surrounding Mr O’Connor’s house.
Nothing was taken in the burglary and Judge Garavan said no threat of violence or force was used.
As part of the planned burglary, a member of the gang, John Woodland, 43, a brother of Patrick and uncle of Edward, lured Mr O’Connor’s son Vincent away from his home to a nearby field on the pretext of buying silage as part of a “clever bait”.
John Woodland first contacted Vincent O’Connor in early December 2017 regarding the purchase of silage.
Judge Garavan issued an imposed sentence, saying the burglary offense committed by the gang was “of great social importance” and there had to be a deterrent.
He said such crimes “terrify people in rural areas, where there is little protection from it and who don’t have Gardaí on their doorstep”.
He said the “absolute fear and trauma for victims that can be caused by such crimes in rural areas” could not be overstated.
Judge Garavan said the offense was premeditated and carefully planned and gardaí were on the scene as they knew from the information received that a burglary was going to take place.
He said the three attackers showed “humanity in the midst of a serious crime” when they decided to flee the home after discovering an elderly man was sleeping in the house at the time.
Judge Garavan said it would have been very traumatic for Vincent O’Connor if he had returned to his home that afternoon not knowing if his father had been disabled or tied up.
James O’Connor died peacefully at home in March 2018 and his death was unrelated to the January burglary which left his sleep undisturbed.
At sentencing, Judge Garavan imposed a five year sentence on Patrick Woodland of Greenmount Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick, a five year sentence with the final year suspended, on Edward Woodland of the same address, a five year sentence on John Woodland of Clarina Avenue, Ballinacurra Avenue, Limerick, with the last two years suspended and three and a half years on Paul Kiely Glencairn, Dooradadoyle, Limerick, with the last year and a half suspended.
Det Garda Brendan Rouine told the court Patrick Woodland and John Woodland were each sentenced to three years in prison in 2012 for a similar burglary committed in Galway in 2011.
He said Vincent O’Connor now has enhanced security features at his home.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/burglary-gang-member-getting-disability-benefit-for-being-lactose-intolerant-court-hears-42279420.html Burglary gang member receives disability pension for lactose intolerance, court hears