Friday 19 January 2018

Gardai investigating after horse bought for Console Paul Kelly's daughter disappears in 'theft'

Paul Kelly (inset) and the horse bought for Kelly's daughter
Paul Kelly (inset) and the horse bought for Kelly's daughter
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

THIS is the valuable show jumping horse owned by disgraced Console director Paul Kelly which has mysteriously disappeared.

Gardai are investigating the alleged theft of the horse owned by Kelly, the latest episode in the shocking saga of the suicide counselling charity.

It is understood that the interim management of Console, which is to be wound down, is also looking into whether the horse – for which the Kellys reportedly paid more than €40,000 – was bought using charity funds.

The brown mare, named Ecapitola, was bought in 2014 for Kelly’s daughter Robyn, who is an accomplished show jumper.

Robyn Kelly competing with Ecapitola at the Cavan Spring Championships earlier this year. Photo: Jim Prime
Robyn Kelly competing with Ecapitola at the Cavan Spring Championships earlier this year. Photo: Jim Prime

The horse was removed on Thursday from stables owned by Olympic show jumping trainer Gerry Flynn by two men posing as gardai working on the Console investigation.

Their visit was arranged in a phone call last Wednesday night, and Mr Flynn said he was not home when the men arrived between 10am and noon.

They claimed that the horse had been identified following a trawl of records found in a storage facility in Kildare last Monday.

The mare was taken along with a white Fiat 500 car and a horse trailer.

Her father Paul Kelly. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Her father Paul Kelly. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Mr Flynn said he was told there was no squad car, nor did the men present ID.

He went straight to gardai in Longford when he arrived back from a day’s work in another county.

No arrests have yet been made, and no CCTV footage is available from the stables.

The two men were driving a silver BMW when they arrived at the property.

Robyn Kelly was doing work experience at Mr Flynn’s stables in Cloughan, Co Longford, for the past month. The young college student also worked there  for two months last summer.

The horse was stabled elsewhere for the rest of the year.

Ecapitola has competed in show jumping events around the country, most recently at the Tubberbride RC Summer League event in Co Sligo.

Mr Flynn said he was relieved there was no “rough stuff” at his home last week as a result of the theft.

“They might have tried to forcibly remove the property. I’m quite happy that it happened the way it did,” he told the Herald.

“There were two men and one of them was a burly sort of a guy, so if there was any resistance I’d be concerned about what might have happened.”

David Hall, the interim CEO of Console, confirmed over the weekend that he is trying to establish if the horse was bought using Console funds.

He has been told that it was and is waiting to see if it is declared on the full list of assets due to be submitted to the High Court today by the Kellys.

The suspected theft of the horse is the latest twist in the Console controversy that emerged following details of an unpublished HSE audit into the charity’s finances last year.

It uncovered lavish spending on Console credit cards by director Kelly, his wife Patricia and son Tim.

It has been revealed that the trio spent almost €465,000 on 11 of Console’s 20 credit cards between 2012 and 2014.

Included in the purchases were foreign holidays, designer clothing and restaurant meals.

It has also emerged that the Department of Health was made aware of the fact that Kelly was given the Probation Act for impersonating a doctor in Baggot Street Hospital in the 1980s.

Tommy Morris, who was working as a parliamentary assistant for TD Derek Keating, said he approached then Health Minister James Reilly with concerns about Kelly in 2011 and later presented him with a dossier he had compiled.

Kelly was questioned by the department and said the incident was a “prank” during his student days.

A spokesman said no written complaint was made to the department by the parliamentary assistant despite a request for one.

No official briefing on the matter was given to Dr Reilly because the court case was already a matter of public record.

It is not known if the minister was informally briefed. The Fine Gael deputy did not respond to queries from the Herald last night.

Neither the department nor the HSE could confirm if the HSE was made aware of the investigation.  Mr Morris said the incident was a “missed opportunity” to expose Kelly.


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