Painting a picture of a sinner redeemed
A DEVOUT Christian, a solicitor to boot, who stole €2.8m from his clients – and left his beloved Catholic Church nursing losses of €1.5m. Struck-off solicitor Ruairi O'Ceallaigh is, as his barrister Padraig Dwyer remarked during his sentencing hearing, truly "a man of contradictions".
He may also be a man at peace with his crimes.
Before entering the dock, the solicitor smiled and laughed with family and a large group of supporters who gathered for the two-hour hearing.
Indeed, what was remarkable about the hearing was the sheer number of testimonials and character statements submitted to Judge Mary Ellen Ring for her consideration. Such was the volume that she deferred passing sentence until later this month.
Mr Dwyer said Mr O'Ceallaigh had devoted much of his personal and professional life – donating his time, energy and money – to protect the rights of disadvantaged people.
He also spent three years of his life stealing money from unsuspecting clients.
As well as trading in Contracts for Difference (CFDs) using client funds, he stole from client accounts to buy investment properties and pay off other mortgages.
The Law Society has come under sustained criticism for not halting the criminal acts of some former solicitors.
But tribute was paid yesterday to a tenacious officer of the Law Society, who uncovered Mr O'Ceallaigh's crimes.
It is his solicitor brethren who have repaid his clients, each paying €760 every year to the Society's Compensation Fund.
The testimonials submitted in support of Mr O'Ceallaigh describe a sinner who has been redeemed by his good works.
It remains to be seen if they will be enough to ward off a jail term.