Thursday 18 January 2018

Byrne has effectively admitted €52m fraud from banks, court told

Thomas Byrne
Thomas Byrne

Conor Gallagher

FORMER solicitor Thomas Byrne has effectively admitted defrauding the banks out of €52m, the prosecution has said at the closing of his trial.

Remy Farrell said Mr Byrne had offered no defence to allegations that he lied and used fraudulent documents to obtain commercial loans from six financial institutions.

The prosecuting counsel said Mr Byrne was "a gambler" who was possibly hoping that the jury would feel that he was exonerated because the banks had engaged in reckless lending.

Referring to the charges that the accused defrauded 11 clients out of their homes or money, Mr Farrell questioned why these people would sign away their houses "for absolutely no good reason".

But defence counsel Damien Colgan told the jury there were "cracks" in the prosecution case and that Mr Byrne must be given the benefit of the doubt.

His client had got caught up "on a human level" in the bank's reckless lending but it had always been his intention to repay the loans.

Mr Byrne (47), of Walkinstown Road, Crumlin, Dublin, is accused of theft and fraud offences totalling €51.8m.

The charges allege that he transferred clients' homes into his name and then used them as collateral for property loans.

He has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 50 counts of theft, forgery, using forged documents and deception between 2004 and 2007.

Referring to Mr Byrne's claims that his clients agreed to sign over their properties to him with the promise of being paid later, Mr Farrell, for the prosecution, asked: "Isn't it amazing that not even a yellow post-it note exists in relation to these deals?"

He continued: "Mr Byrne's defence seems to be that the dog ate his homework; not once, not twice, but 10 times or more."

He said the accused was asking the jury to believe that 11 of Mr Byrne's clients "spontaneously decided to make up a story" about him."

FOOLISH

The defence counsel asked the jury to consider that his client's action occurred at the height of the Celtic Tiger when people were "queuing around the corner" to buy houses.

He said the jurors must ask themselves was it possible that Mr Byrne's clients entered into the agreements with him and then backtracked when everything fell apart.

Mr Colgan told the jury his client may have been stupid, foolish and weak but he did not intend to defraud people.

Closing speeches have now concluded.

The jury will hear from Judge Patrick McCartan on Monday before considering its verdict.

Irish Independent

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