Friday 19 December 2014

Fraudster's wife, two fiancees, girlfriend and four children

Brian McDonald

Published 30/07/2014 | 02:30

Conor Brannigan being led away from Roscommon Circuit Court yesterday (Tuesday). Photo: David Walsh
Conor Brannigan being led away from Roscommon Circuit Court yesterday (Tuesday). Photo: David Walsh

A MAN who led four separate lives with four different women was in prison last night after admitting a massive fraud.

Conor Brannigan was married with three children, was engaged separately to two other partners and had a girlfriend in Poland with another child.

Brannigan (41), from Stafford Hall, Silver Street, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, admitted defrauding one of his potential brothers-in-law of €250,000 in a land deal.

He pleaded guilty to three separate charges of defrauding vet James Hoare. The offences were committed on dates in 2010 and 2011.

During an interview with gardai he admitted to "living four separate lives".

Detective Garda David McDonnell told Roscommon Circuit Criminal Court that Brannigan met Mr Hoare through the vet's sister who was his girlfriend.

At various times Brannigan told Mr Hoare that he was an accountant used to acting in land deals and later stated that he was a forensic accountant acting for a London-based venture capital company dealing in distressed properties.

Mr Hoare engaged him to buy a substantial plot of land in Co Roscommon.

In August 2010 Brannigan indicated to Mr Hoare that the land could be bought for €250,000. The money was subsequently transferred in three amounts – €6,000, €25,000 and €219,000 – totalling €250,000 to a bank account controlled by Brannigan.

Mr Hoare, who was working in the UK while his family was at home, had to get a loan of €219,000 from Barclay's Bank to fund the purchase.

In late 2010 Mr Hoare tried to contact Brannigan to confirm the sale had gone through, only to be told that he was in hospital in Galway and that he had not completed the deal.

Property prices were falling and Brannigan felt that the price of the land could be re-negotiated. But with the banks now coming under pressure, Mr Hoare became concerned about his money and Brannigan said he arranged to transfer it along with €4m of his own money to a bank in Poland.

In January 2011 a new price of €185,000 was suggested for the land and later that year Brannigan became engaged to Mr Hoare's sister.

The vet received a call in October 2011 to say that Ulster Bank had possession of the land and would sell it for €165,000 and this was agreed. But some weeks later Brannigan advised Mr Hoare that the Commercial Division of the High Court was now dealing with the sale.

Mr Hoare made his own enquiries and discovered that there was no mention of the matter in the High Court, but he found a number of outstanding judgments against Brannigan.

He emailed Brannigan asking for his money back and his sister then told him that he had "come clean" to her and the money was gone. His sister was very upset at the revelation.

Mr Hoare received an email from Brannigan admitting "a very deep breach of trust" and confirming that he was in deep financial trouble.

He said that KPMG had seized the money on behalf of a company he had set up with another man. When KPMG was approached, there was no money in the account.

Garda McDonnell confirmed that Mr Hoare was out of pocket for the full €250,000.

In a statement to gardai in Nenagh, Brannigan admitted paying £39,000 for a Land Rover and further money for work on an SUV. A sum of €110,000 had been transferred to a bank in Poland.

Engaged

"I can't explain it. I was living four separate lives. I was married with three children, had two partners and was engaged to them and a girlfriend and child in Poland," he said.

Brannigan was admitted to a psychiatric unit in Ennis where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

"I am totally aware of how lives have been affected by my actions," he told gardai. "I would genuinely think at times that the money was mine and then reality would kick in ... I genuinely intended to buy the land."

The court was told that he was now living alone in local authority housing and had no income other than social welfare.

Defence barrister Stephen Groarke acknowledged that the fraud had "enormous ramifications" for Mr Hoare.

Judge Tony Hunt said the amounts involved were so large that there was no prospect of them being repaid by Brannigan and a custodial sentence was required in the circumstances.

He sentenced him to two years in prison, but suspended the last 12 months. "His conduct was absolutely appalling," the judge added.

Irish Independent

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