Saturday 20 January 2018

Byrne tells fraud trial deals with clients were 'unorthodox'

Conor Gallagher

FORMER solicitor Thomas Byrne has said he engaged in several "unorthodox" deals with clients to transfer their houses into his name but denies engaging in fraud.

On his second day of cross-examination during his €52m theft and fraud trial, Mr Byrne denied he forged the signature of Aideen Costigan to transfer her family home into his name without her knowledge.

He told prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell that Ms Costigan agreed to sell the house on for €410,000 with the understanding that she would not receive the money for several months.

Mr Byrne said he intended to pay Ms Costigan when he "came into funds" but that the Law Society shut down his practice before this could happen.

Mr Byrne said he acted for Ms Costigan in the deal but that she did not know that it was him who was buying the house.

Mr Farrell asked the accused if he expected the jury to believe that Ms Costigan agreed to hand over her house on the promise of a stranger to pay her the money sometime in the future.

"Wouldn't she be better off parting with the title deeds for a bag of magic beans?"he asked.

FRIEND

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

Regarding another house owned by the family of a childhood friend, Mr Byrne also denied fraud.

He said he told his friend Brendan Dunne that he was being put under pressure and threatened by his business partner John Kelly to secure a loan from Bank of Scotland and that he needed security to do this.

He said that Mr Dunne agreed to sign over the family home to him temporarily. He said his intention was to transfer the house back to Mr Dunne at a later date but that the closing of his practice intervened.

Mr Farrell asked Mr Byrne why all of these people would lie to the court, the gardai and the Law Society by alleging the solicitor had defrauded them.

Mr Byrne replied they needed to lie in order to get their houses back. He said the society wouldn't assist them if they said they had a deal with "disgraced solicitor Thomas Byrne".

The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of seven men and five women.

Irish Independent

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