Council worker who released RATS into his office jailed for six months
22nd October 2021

Council worker, 61, who released two RATS into his workplace ‘because of a grievance with his boss’ is jailed for six months

  • Ex-council worker who released rats into his workplace is jailed for six months
  • John O’Neill admitted causing criminal damage at Cork County Council’s offices
  • The 61-year-old had allegedly had a grievance with his former employer
  • Judge called O’Neill’s actions ‘uniquely wicked’ and ‘committed with malice’

A council employee from the Republic of Ireland who released two rats at his workplace because of an alleged grievance with his boss has been jailed for six months.

John O’Neill, of Glanduff, County Cork, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage by releasing rats at Cork County Council’s offices in February.

The 61-year-old, who had worked for the council for 23 years, was captured on CCTV entering the building with an item covered by his jacket and leaving shortly afterwards. When staff came to work the next day, the offices were covered in excrement.

John O’Neill, of Glanduff, County Cork, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage by releasing rats at Cork County Council’s offices in February (stock image)

Pest control officers were called in and identified the source, the BBC reported. Management reported their suspicions that the rat infestation was deliberate in March.

Garda Sgt Paul Kelly told Bandon District Court that over the course of a few days the offices were ‘destroyed in excrement’. The cleaning process, in addition to the damage caused, cost about €3,000 (£2,530). 

O’Neill, who had no previous convictions, was subsequently arrested and made ‘full and frank admissions’, Sgt Kelly said. His solicitor said O’Neill had brought €3,000 to court in compensation for his actions. 

The maximum sentence in the case was €2,500 or 12 months in prison.

Defence solicitor Diarmuid O’Shea said O’Neill had simply ‘flipped’, but Judge James McNulty said that there were plenty of ways of dealing with feelings of stress that did not involve releasing rats into an office.

Sentencing O’Neill to 12 months but suspended for six, the judge called O’Neill’s actions ‘uniquely wicked’ and ‘committed with malice’. 

‘This required forethought and was a deliberate act. He needed to catch and find rats, he needed to release them,’ the judge added.     

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