An alleged victim of former solicitor Thomas Byrne has described her "horror" at discovering he had transferred her family home into his name.
It was the third day of Mr Byrne's trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for theft and fraud offences totalling €51.8million.
Byrne (47) of Walkinstown Road, Crumlin has pleaded not guilty to 51 counts of theft, forgery, using forged documents and deception.
The trial heard from husband and wife Paul and Aideen Costigan. In 2006 Mr Byrne carried out work for the couple relating to the sale of the house left by Ms Costigan's recently deceased mother.
Ms Costigan told the court that the solicitor arranged the sale of the house to a third party but that she later found to her "horror" that he had transferred the property into his own name by using an allegedly forged signature.
Mr Costigan gave evidence that the house was "tied up in the courts" for the following six years and that they recently sold it for less than half of what they were originally offered when Mr Byrne became involved.
The jury were shown the alleged forged signature of Ms Costigan side-by-side with the genuine signature on her garda statement. Ms Costigan insisted to defence counsel Damien Colgan SC that it was not her signature but said it does bear a resemblance.
She told Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, that when they were growing up her mother worked as a music teacher in the Walkinstown area and Mr Byrne used to take piano lessons when he was a child. She said she considered the accused a friend of her mothers and that her mother trusted him.
When her mother passed away in 2006 Mr Byrne attended her funeral and sympathised with Ms Costigan. He was then tasked with executing her will and transferring the family home to the deceased's five children.
Ms Costigan gave evidence that shortly afterwards Mr Byrne approached her and said he had a client who wanted to purchase the property for €410,000. She and her siblings then decided to put the house on the open market to see if they could get a higher price.
The witness said this resulted in an offer from a new party of €420,000. Ms Costigan went back to Mr Byrne who said his client would raise his offer to €430,000.
She and her family decided to accept this offer and Mr Byrne told them the sale would be completed within four weeks.
Ms Costigan said a short time later she became aware that the solicitor's practice was in trouble and that the Law Society was involved. She said she tried to contact the accused but he did not answer his phone.
She said she was advised by a lawyer friend to check the status of the house on the Land Registry. When she did so she found it was now in the name of Thomas Byrne.
A document which appeared to be signed by the witness stated that Mr Byrne had purchased the house from her for €410,000.
Ms Costigan said she never received such a sum and that she never signed the document.
She also rejected a suggestion by defence counsel that she had an agreement to allow Mr Byrne rent out the house to tenants while the transfer was being processed. She said nobody was living in the house at this time and that it contained no furniture.
The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of seven men and five women.
By Conor Gallagher