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'I blew my €26k award on drugs, cars and horses'

A YOUNG man who is seeking free legal aid on a theft charge squandered a €26,000 compensation settlement in less than three months to fund a lifestyle that was like "something out of a Hollywood movie", a court heard.

William Croft (21) got the cash from a claim against the Department of Justice over an accident, but it "went to his head" and he told a judge he spent it all staying in hotels, taking drugs, importing dogs and buying horses and cars.

He is now on social welfare and has applied for legal aid to cover his representation in a case in which he admitted stealing a car wheel from a house in north Dublin.

Croft, of Woodlawn Green, Santry, was put on a one-year probation bond after he pleaded guilty to trespassing and stealing a Mercedes wheel and tyre at Castletimon Road, Coolock, on October 1 last year.

Scandal

When his case was finalised at Dublin District Court, Judge Catherine Murphy was told Croft was applying for legal aid, but the application had been deferred and gardai were objecting because of the settlement.

Solicitor Stephen O'Mahony presented bank statements to the court to show how quickly Croft had "frittered away" the €26,000 since it was lodged in July 2012.

Mr O'Mahony had not represented him at the time.

"It's a huge amount of money",Judge Murphy said. "And he is supposed to have got rid of it in three months? It's an absolute scandal."

Mr O'Mahony replied: "Some of it is like a Hollywood movie, the way it was spent."

Croft told the court: "I was buying cars, I bought a few horses, I was staying in a hotel for weeks, I was spending it on drugs, on my mates. It just went to my head, I had never had that sort of money in my life."

He was "buying cars off the internet, driving them around and trying to sell them".

"All I have to show for it now is I have a shed out in the back garden for the dogs that cost €5,000 and a telly in my sitting room," he said.

He said he had tried to import two dogs worth €5,000 and never received them.

Croft's father said what had happened had been an "absolute disgrace" and he "didn't know his own son".

"I had to sort his dole money out for him a couple of weeks ago," he said

Judge Murphy adjourned the case until tomorrow.

aphelan@herald.ie


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