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Former solicitor denies he stole €52m

A former solicitor fraudulently transferred clients' homes into his own name so he could secure millions of euro in mortgages against them, it has been alleged.

Thomas Byrne (47) has pleaded not guilty to 51 counts of theft, forgery, using forged documents and deception between 2004 and 2007.

The charges relate to 12 properties and six banks and involve the alleged theft of €51.8m.

Mr Byrne, of Walkinstown Road, Crumlin, is no longer a solicitor, and now works as a waiter in Dublin city centre, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

FORGED

Prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell said most offences followed a similar pattern with Mr Byrne transferring ownership of a house into his own name using a forged deed of transfer. He would then use this property as security to secure finance.

Mr Farrell described an episode which he said was typical of the offending. In 2002, an elderly client of the accused, Patricia Dunne, decided to make a will with his firm. She left her home in Bunting Road, Walkinstown, to her children, including Michael Dunne, who was a close personal friend of Mr Byrne.

In 2007, news began to emerge that Mr Byrne's practice was in trouble and that the Law Society was involved.

Counsel said several clients began to ask about their properties, and "the whole thing came crashing down like a house of cards".

Michael Dunne also made inquiries and found his mother's house had been transferred into Mr Byrne's name and that the solicitor had secured two mortgages against it.

Mr Farrell said there would be evidence that Mr Byrne forged a deed of transfer for the house, stating he bought it from Patricia Dunne in 2002 for €240,000.

Counsel said it is not credible that Ms Dunne sold the house to Mr Byrne, as only three weeks previously she had made a will leaving it to her children.

He also said she had never mentioned selling it, and that she continued living in it for years after the supposed sale.

The trial resumed today.

hnews@herald.ie


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