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Celtic Tiger party boy Breifne O'Brien bailed out by pensioner mum


Mr O'Brien in 2002 with his now estranged wife Fiona Nagle.

Mr O'Brien in 2002 with his now estranged wife Fiona Nagle.

Breifne O'Brien leaving court yesterday, where his mother, Mary O'Brien, right, secured his bail.

Breifne O'Brien leaving court yesterday, where his mother, Mary O'Brien, right, secured his bail.


Mr O'Brien in 2002 with his now estranged wife Fiona Nagle.

HE was the toast of Celtic Tiger social gatherings, regularly seen at parties with his glamorous wife on his arm.

But yesterday socialite businessman Breifne O'Brien was bailed out by his pensioner mother as he faced charges over the alleged theft of more than €11m.

Mr O'Brien (51), once frequently pictured alongside his now estranged wife Fiona Nagle at glitzy black-tie events, appeared in Dublin District Court on 38 charges of theft and deception between 2006 and 2008.

He looked a shadow of the suave bon viveur who graced social pages a few years ago -- thinner, greyer, and occasionally wearing glasses.

His mother Mary O'Brien sat clutching her glasses and a neat leather handbag with the 'LV' symbol of the fashionable designer Louis Vuitton visible.

The court heard she had come with €2,000 in her bank account to offer surety on behalf of her son. The charges against him are understood to be as a result of a major probe by fraud squad detectives into allegations of deception over a collapsed investment scheme.

He was dressed in a navy blazer, with a blue open-necked shirt peeping out over a grey v-necked sweater, and sat behind a sheet of perspex.

Occasionally he donned a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles to glance over the papers he had brought with him, and conversed briefly with his solicitor Maureen Moynihan.

Judge Cormac Dunne spent several minutes probing whether his mother was under any "duress" and understood she would have to forgo the monies if her son was to break his bail bond.

"The amount I would be seeking would be €10,000 in the event of a default," the judge explained.

He said in some instances where mothers acted as referees, they can be making "involuntary and emotive decisions as opposed to a rational, cold, commercial decision".

Mrs O'Brien said she understood that he wanted to know that she was "not being put upon to do it".

Mr O'Brien comes from an affluent family in Cork, where his father Leo was a successful businessman. His younger brother Daire O'Brien is a familiar face to many as an RTE rugby presenter. Their family home, Carrigrohane Castle, overlooks the River Lee.

Judge Dunne was informed there were five separate injured parties, which were not financial institutions. They were named as Martin O'Brien, understood not to be a relation of Mr O'Brien; Pat Doyle; Evan Newell, a property developer; Daniel Maher; and Louis Dowley, a farmer from Co Tipperary. The largest sum relates to the alleged theft of over €4m from Mr Dowley.

"The total sum of money altogether in relation to the section four theft charges is approximately €11m," Detective Sergeant Martin Griffin of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told the court.

The garda said Mr O'Brien, with an address at Kilmore, Monkstown Grove, Monkstown, Co Dublin, faced 19 charges in relation to theft, mirrored by an additional 19 charges of theft and deception under the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Offences Act 2001.

After being arrested at 9am yesterday, Mr O'Brien replied "not guilty" to each of the charges after being cautioned at the Bridewell garda station.

Det Sgt Griffin said there was no objection to bail.

Judge Dunne remanded Mr O'Brien in custody with consent to bail on his own bond of €1,000, and a surety of €10,000.

He had to promise not to apply for a duplicate passport after he volunteered his current one to gardai. He is to appear before the courts again on November 1.

Irish Independent