Monday 11 December 2017

Byrne weeps in dock at fraud trial

Sonya McLean

FORMER solicitor Thomas Byrne broke down in tears as he thanked his past clients and alleged victims for the "fair evidence" they gave in his trial and for "not going to town on me".

On his third day of cross-examination during his €52m theft and fraud trial, Mr Byrne, pictured, agreed that it was "a striking feature" of his evidence that he "spoke with genuine affection" for his former clients.

Mr Byrne said he couldn't comment on a suggestion from prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell SC that they seemed to have "a residual affection for you".

He then started to cry in the witness box.

"I was very much struck by the way all of my clients gave their evidence," he said.

Mr Byrne refused to accept a suggestion that these people (the witnesses) had all turned on him.

"No, they gave evidence because they had to. None of them went to town on their evidence and they were very fair," he replied.

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 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.

Mr Byrne did not accept a suggestion from Mr Farrell that, on his account, each of his clients had "independently of each other" come up with a scam of going to the Law Society and telling them "a pack of lies" in order to get the deeds of transfer for their properties returned to them.

Mr Byrne told the jury: "Collectively, what they have in common is that they were all caught in the crossfire when my practice closed. It is not a scam. I will refuse to say it, because that is not my opinion."

Mr Farrell asked Mr Byrne: "Do you want to persist with your story that makes perjurers of all these people that you have regard for?

"I deeply regret being here, but the reality is that I got into the witness box to tell the truth and that is what I have been doing," Mr Byrne replied.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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