Court told former solicitor Thomas Byrne trawled client list for properties

Thursday 10 October 2013 23.07
Thomas Byrne has pleaded not guilty to charges of theft, deception, fraud, and forgery
Thomas Byrne has pleaded not guilty to charges of theft, deception, fraud, and forgery

A court has heard that former solicitor Thomas Byrne trawled through his client list to find those with properties he could fraudulently use to raise money.

On the second day of the trial, Senior Counsel Remy Farrell said Mr Byrne "was scrambling around looking for properties and title deeds" as his fraudulent activity intensified after 2004.

Mr Farrell outlined a number of transactions to the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he said had the sole purpose of raising loans from banks with forged documents.

The jury was also told it is alleged Mr Byrne stole €1.8m he was holding on trust for three gardaí who were landlords of an apartment block in Dublin.

The money was supposed to have been used to repay a property loan.

Mr Byrne is on trial charged with 51 theft, deception, fraud and forgery offences involving six banks and 12 properties in Dublin.

The 47-year-old from Mountjoy Square in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Prosecutors told the jury they may well feel anger at the failures of the banking system that saw huge amounts of money loaned on flimsy paperwork to the former solicitor.

Mr Farrell said they were not standing over banking practice during the "Celtic Tiger" years or asking the jury to feel sympathy for the banks.

However, he said irrespective of the reckless, lazy and incompetent system, it did not justify anyone getting away with serious fraud.

Mr Farrell told the jury there was an almost "comic tragedy" about financial statements submitted to banks by Mr Byrne towards the end of his activities in 2007.

Mr Byrne was claiming to be making millions from Italian fashion houses and had a huge property portfolio.

He said Mr Byrne was "selling tenners for fivers" and his scheme could never have worked, it was like a pyramid scheme.