Friday 20 July 2018

Former solicitor Thomas Byrne to give evidence tomorrow

Former solicitor Thomas Byrne is to give evidence tomorrow
Former solicitor Thomas Byrne is to give evidence tomorrow

Conor Gallagher

Former solicitor Thomas Byrne is to give evidence in his own defence tomorrow at his €52 million theft and fraud trial.

The prosecution has finished their case after 16 days of evidence. Judge Patrick McCartan told the jury that they will now hear from Mr Byrne whose evidence is expected to take several days.

The judge withdrew one of the counts from the alleging the forgery of a document associated with a house in Cabra. He said this was being withdrawn because of lack of evidence

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

The final prosecution witness was Detective Sergeant Paschal Walsh who headed the investigation into Mr Byrne after the Law society shut down his practice in October 2007.

Today Det Sgt Walsh agreed with defence counsel Damian Colgan SC that he also investigated Mr Byrne’s business partner and property developer John Kelly.

Det Sgt Walsh said the “vast majority” of the criminal complaints were against Mr Byrne but that two complaints were against Mr Kelly. These were in relation to a €1.5 million loan from Irish Nationwide Building Society and a series of five loans from Permanent TSB.

The detective confirmed that Mr Kelly is not before the courts on any charges.

Det Sgt Walsh also agreed that a total of €7.84 million was transferred from Mr Byrne’s account into the account of Mr Kelly. The money was transferred in dozens of transactions between July 2005 and April 2007.

The witness said this figure did not match the €29 million in allegedly fraudulent loans Mr Byrne received during the same period. He specultated that the money could be related to Mr Kelly’s bank loans being paid into Mr Byrne’s account because Mr Byrne was his solicitor.

He said that it is standard practice for a bank to transfer loans into the borrower’s solicitor’s account.

Det Sgt Walsh said that the files showed Mr Byrne’s practice had 900 client accounts and that 97 of these were in the name of Mr Kelly.

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

Irish Independent

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