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31st Jul 2023

Man who took uncle’s corpse to post office for pension should be ‘given benefit of the doubt’

Steve Hopkins

He told concerned onlookers his dead uncle was ‘grand’

A man dragged before the court for taking his dead uncle to the post office to collect his pension should be given the “benefit of the doubt” over the incident, a family member has reportedly said.

Declan Haughney’s attempt at claiming Peadar Doyle’s €246 (£211) payment on 21 January last year resulted in police being called and the 66-year-old being declared dead on the premises.

The story went viral after reports at the time suggested 41-year-old Declan had hoisted his dead uncle to the post office and had become the “talk of the town.”

Belfast Live reports that Declan was released from prison last Friday, one week after being sentenced to two years in jail with six months suspended for the attempted deception in Carlow, Ireland. He was released due to time already served.

The publication reported that Declan had been welcomed back by his extended family.

Carlow Circuit Criminal Court was told how Declan, who has 55 previous convictions, and his friend, Gareth Coakley, dragged Doyle to Hosey’s post office. The duo was spotted by onlookers and told them the pensioner is “grand.”

Garda Joe O’Keeffe told the court Declan – who had tried to collect Doyle’s pension earlier that day – returned, and told the teller: “He’s dead now and it’s your fault. If you had paid me he wouldn’t be here.”

O’Keeffe told the court it was not the State’s position that Doyle was dead before he got to the post office, as it could not say when he passed away.

Speaking after the trial, members of Doyle’s family have said they believe he was alive when he was brought from his house to the post office on January 21 last year – as one said they are willing to give Declan the “benefit of the doubt” over his condition.

The late pensioner’s niece, who did not want to be named, told the Carlow Nationalist: “As unhappy and hurt as we are, we are not in a position to condemn him [Declan] for taking him [Peadar] out of the house dead.

“There is absolutely no evidence that he did that. There is no evidence to call him a liar.”

In her victim impact statement to Carlow Circuit Court last week, the deceased’s sister Noeleen Dowling reportedly said the family had been “doubly affected by the tragedy of Peadar’s passing”.

She said the hurt had been compounded by St Patrick’s Day parade floats parodying the events surrounding the pensioner’s death. Radio and television shows, and social media users, had also ridiculed the incident.

Read the Belfast Live report here.

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