AN IRISHMAN accused of defrauding his older American fiancee for millions of dollars had promised to marry her this Christmas, the High Court heard last week.
In a heartbreaking affidavit, 60-year-old Elisa Rodino told how she "desperately wanted to believe" 46-year-old Thomas Queally despite mounting evidence that he stole almost $4m (€3.03m) of her fortune.
The New York woman, who inherited her father's multimillion property portfolio, secured orders this week to freeze her former lover's bank accounts in Ireland where she believes he transferred $2m from an account they had both their names on in New York.
Mr Queally also convinced his former girlfriend to transfer properties to him, which he promised to pay for once a personal injury claim he had lodged against a former employer was settled.
During the hearing, Ms Rodino's barrister, Ross Gorman, alleged that Mr Queally had been leading a double life the entire time the couple were together and was in fact also engaged to another American woman when he proposed to her.
Ms Rodino, who says she suffers with depression and loneliness, met the Clare native in March 2007 and the couple began dating soon afterwards.
She described how after she attempted suicide in June 2007, her Irish boyfriend had been very caring and helped her through her depression.
"He gave the impression of being very concerned for my well-being, even making sure that I would take the correct medication," she said.
The couple were spending lots of time together but Mr Queally would go missing for weeks at a time, which, in hindsight, she said, should have been a warning sign.
She said: "He was charming and attractive and I desperately wanted to believe him. I genuinely thought that after all my years being single I had finally found someone to love and settle down with."
Ms Rodino said she knew her ex-boyfriend had been previously married and had two children who went to very expensive private schools in New York.
She said this should have also set off alarm bells because it was obvious that neither of them could have afforded the school and she believes that he stole money from her to pay for his children's education.
"Looking back now, I should have suspected something," she said.
In 2009, Ms Rodino's father died and his $40m property company was divided between her and her 76-year-old sister.
In the same year, Mr Queally brought his American girlfriend to Clare to meet his family and would often talk about adopting children with her because they were too old to have their own.
Last Christmas, he proposed that they should get married the following year and the couple set the date for December 12.
Earlier this year, Mr Queally asked that his name be placed on Ms Rodino's bank account so he could prove they were a couple in the court case he had taken against his former employer.
The adoring older woman followed Mr Queally's instructions and it was not until he failed to join her on a holiday in Spain this year that she realised something was wrong.
She said: "We were due to go to Spain together. The defendant informed me that he would meet me in Spain after I attended to some issues relating to my parent's estate.
"I called him and asked him to bring my engagement ring to Spain. He said he missed me. He was supposed to leave New York on October 26 and meet me in Spain on October 27. However, he never showed up."
When she returned to New York, she found more than $2m had been removed from her bank account and Mr Queally had stopped answering her calls.
She said: "I was completely devastated by this development. I was in love with him and I trusted him absolutely. This theft had a significant effect on me emotionally, as well as financially."
The freezing orders were granted on an ex-parte basis by Justice Roderick Murphy and the case will be returned to in early January.