A lonely bachelor gave away a fortune to Nigerian scam artists who promised to send him the love of his life, a court heard. But when Stephen Wallace’s bank put a stay on his account after noticing the transactions, he marched in with a kitchen knife, a hammer and a baton.
Wallace, from Market Street in Clifden, Galway, pleaded guilty to producing a weapon in a manner likely to intimidate another person or inflict serious injury at the Bank of Ireland in Clifden on December 20, 2016.
Garda Alan Murphy told Clifden District Court he was called to the bank where he found Wallace, 42, in a very agitated state. He was brandishing a large kitchen knife, a small hammer and a wooden baton and was arrested and taken to a psychiatric unit.
When he was released from hospital a month later, on January 19, he called into Clifden Garda Station and was again very agitated and abusive, Garda Murphy recalled. “He had to be arrested for his own safety,” Garda Murphy stated.
Garda Murphy said Wallace had been willingly sending the money – but the court was not told how much he had handed over. Defence solicitor, JJ Mannion, said his client had an IQ of 65, whereas the average in Ireland is 100.
“He’s believed to be on the autistic spectrum,” he told the court. When the Bank of Ireland became aware through family that Wallace was the victim of a scam, they put a stay on his account, which was the reason for his frustration at the branch.
Judge Fahy said the case was “so sad and just unbelievable” and it was something that could continue for the rest of the defendant’s life. Garda Murphy said the defendant “truly believed somebody would come over” after he had sent the money.
Judge Fahy spoke directly to Wallace: “I’m telling you now that person is not going to come and you’re going to stop putting money into that account. Would you agree to do that?” “I will yes,” he replied.
Judge Fahy urged him to only pay his bills and stop putting money into anybody else’s accounts. She adjourned the case until September 28.