Sunday 25 February 2018

Couple conned for €120k by gambler for fake Nama site

James Murphy (44) pleaded guilty to three counts of theft
James Murphy (44) pleaded guilty to three counts of theft
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

An Irish couple living in Dubai were duped into paying a man €120,000 after he claimed to have a contact in Nama who could help them secure a site for their dream home.

James Murphy (44) from Curraghduff, Newbridge, Co Galway, told Thomas and Michelle Turley that he could get them a site to build their home.

The couple had been living and working in Dubai but hoped to use their savings and a redundancy payment to build a home in Ireland. They gave Mr Murphy two separate payments of €60,000 and €59,642 to secure the site in late 2011 and early 2012. Mr Murphy had claimed a condition of the alleged Nama sale was that the money had to be paid in full by the end of January 2012.

However, the electrician, who has a severe gambling problem, instead spent the money - gambling up to €8,000 at a time.

The court heard that the couple had trusted Mr Murphy as he had been in a relationship with Mr Turley's sister at the time and this had given him opportunity to hear about their dreams to move home.

"It has set their plans back a number of years as a result," Gda John Leahy told the court.

Mr Murphy also conned a second man, Michael Reilly, into handing over €50,000 - claiming his fictional Nama contact would give him access to an investment with an almost 50pc rate of interest over three months. The second victim had been in a relationship with Murphy's cousin.

Murphy pleaded guilty to three counts of theft at Galway Circuit Court and will be sentenced next week. His offences came to light after he was unable to pay either party back the money provided.

Defence for Mr Murphy said he had a serious gambling problem but was seeking help. He had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had a bank draft for €20,000 in court in order to begin paying his victims back. Judge Karen O'Connor ordered this to be divided between the injured parties.

Judge O'Connor adjourned sentence until next Friday and requested details about Mr Murphy's salary and overtime payments, saying she was very concerned about the breach of trust involved.

Irish Independent

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