Sunday 21 January 2018

Police probe gangland link to theft of Console show horse

Ex-charity boss Kelly had car, animal stolen by fake gardai

Robyn Kelly with Ecapitola
Robyn Kelly with Ecapitola
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Gardai are investigating a possible organised crime link to the theft of a prize show-jumping horse owned by the disgraced former boss of the suicide bereavement charity, Console.

A Dublin man with suspected links to serious crime was arrested last month in connection with the audacious theft of the horse which Paul Kelly bought for his daughter, Robyn, an accomplished show jumper, for €37,500.

THEFT: Ex-charity boss Paul Kelly had horse and car stolen. Pic. Robbie Reynolds
THEFT: Ex-charity boss Paul Kelly had horse and car stolen. Pic. Robbie Reynolds

The man, who is in his 50s, was released without charge and a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The horse, called Ecapitola, is still missing.

The animal was stolen on July 7, when the scandal over Paul Kelly's lavish spending at Console was at its height.

Paul Kelly and his wife bought the horse for their daughter Robyn in 2014.

The horse was stolen from stables outside Longford in July by two men posing as gardai. They arranged the visit in a phone call to the stable's owner, Gerry Flynn, an Olympic riding coach, the night before.

The caller claimed the horse was being confiscated on suspicion that it may have been purchased with the charity's funds.

The following morning two men showed up at the stables in a silver BMW, and took the horse, a horse box and white Fiat 500 car that also belonged to Robyn Kelly. Her parents had purchased the car for €10,000 as an 18th birthday present.

She was staying at the stables at the time, on work experience.

Gerry Flynn, who was away when the men called, became suspicious when he was told they had no ID and that they hadn't arrived in a squad car. He reported them to gardai in Longford.

The Garda Press Office this weekend confirmed that a man in his 50s was arrested on August 4 in relation to the theft of the horse.

In a statement, it said the investigation is ongoing and gardai are still appealing for witnesses.

The bizarre theft occurred after details of an unpublished HSE audit into the charity's finances found evidence of lavish spending on Console credit cards held by Paul Kelly, his wife and son.

Between them, they spent almost €465,000 on 11 of Console's 20 credit cards between 2012 and 2014. The purchases included foreign holidays, designer clothing and restaurant bills.

David Hall, who was sent in as interim chief executive of the charity, was investigating whether the horse was purchased by the Kellys using Console funds.

Days before the horse went missing, Hall got a tip-off that Paul Kelly was renting a lock-up in Kildare. With court permission, he broke into the lock-up and recovered hundreds of records relating to the charity.

The charity has now been liquidated and the staff transferred to Pieta House.

Paul Kelly is now being investigated by the Office of Corporate Enforcement.

Sunday Independent

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