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Socialite Breifne O’Brien faces €13m fraud trial

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Breifne O'Brien leaving court today.

Breifne O'Brien leaving court today.

Breifne O'Brien leaving court today.

SOCIALITE and businessman Breifne O'Brien has been sent forward for trial on charges of deception and theft of about €13m in connection with an alleged investment fraud.

The 51-year-old had been arrested on September 20 last in Dublin by fraud squad detectives and he was then charged with 38 offences.

The Cork-born socialite and financial advisor faced 19 charges of theft of sums totalling approximately €11m from five individuals and 19 charges for deception of the same people, which allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2008.

“In answer to all the charge sheets, in reply after caution, he said 'not guilty',” Detective Sergeant Martin Griffin had said at Mr O'Brien's first court appearance in September.

The fraud squad officer had then said that 19 charges were in relation to theft and there were 19 “mirror” charges for deception. These allegations involved five people namely Martin O'Brien, Pat Doyle, Evan Newall, Louis Dowley and Daniel Maher.

It is alleged that about €4m was stolen from Mr Dowley, a Tipperary dairy farmer.

The DPP had directed “trial on indictment” meaning the case must go forward before a judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Mr O'Brien, who has already handed over his passport to gardai, had been told he cannot apply for a new one, after his mother, Mary, was let stand bail in the sum of €10,000 on September 20 last.

Dressed in a navy suit, white shirt and dark blue tie, he appeared again at Dublin District Court today.

Judge Cormac Dunne was told that seven additional charges had been brought against the businessman. These are further allegations of deception of €1.9m from Louis Dowley from 2003 until 2008.

When they were put to Mr O'Brien under caution he replied “not guilty”, the court heard.

A book of evidence comprising three volumes was then served by Det-Sgt Griffin. Mr O'Brien put on his glasses and started to peruse through the evidence books before speaking quietly to his solicitor Frank Buttimer.

Judge Dunne then said that Mr O'Brien, who has an address at Kilmore, Monkstown Grove, in south Co. Dublin, was being returned for trial on all 45 charges.

The judge also cautioned him that if he intended to rely on the defence of alibi he must notify the prosecution within 14 days and furnish the relevant names and addresses.

The case will next be listed during the Circuit Court's current term, which ends on December 21.

Today, Judge Dunne also agreed to a request from the defence lawyer that gardai would release Mr O'Brien's passport in the event that he has any travel plans.

Judge Dunne said if the businessman wanted to leave the country he must advise Det-Sgt Griffin of his travel arrangements 14 days in advance. The passport must be given back to the gardai when he returns to Ireland.

Mr O'Brien nodded and said “Thank you judge” confirming that he understood he was obliged to attend his trial.

He left the courthouse after he signed a bail bond with his mother who is acting as an independent surety.

She has agreed that she is standing bail voluntarily and had said “no I am not” when asked earlier by the judge if she was “under any duress, emotive or otherwise”.

A theft conviction on indictment can result in a fine and a jail sentence of up to 10 years while a person found guilty of deception can receive a fine as well a term not exceeding five years in imprisonment.