A Corkman, who impersonated a garda and stole €28,000 from a pensioner before fleeing to England, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Kenneth Lyons, 31, of Willison Meadows, Tower, Blarney was sentenced to five years but had the last 18 months suspended by Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

The court was told the 70-year-old victim had withdrawn his life savings from the bank in 2011 because of his fears about the safety of the banks.

It heard that the man, who lived alone at his home near Wolfe Tone Street in Cork, was about to go on pilgrimage to Medjugorje when he was approached by Lyons as he put a suitcase in his car at around 7am on 26 June 2011.

Lyons told him he was a detective garda from Gurranabraher with information that his house was going to be robbed.

The elderly man brought him into his home. Lyons fled after he was given an envelope with €28,000 in it.

Lyons was later caught and charged with theft and impersonating a garda.

But after he got bail, he fled to England and was arrested there 14 months later on a European arrest warrant and brought back to Cork for trial.

€18,900 in cash was found in the defendant's possession when he was first arrested, and the balance was paid in recent days.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said one could only imagine the trauma the elderly man suffered, saying it was an appallingly mean offence.

The judge said a person would have to be very disconnected from society not to realise the harm this does to elderly people who already feel imprisoned in their homes.

Lyons cried as he was being sentenced and said he was sorry for what he had done.