A witness in the Thomas Byrne fraud trial has described her horror after she discovered her dead mother's house had been transferred into the former solicitor's name.
Aideen Costigan from Stillorgan in Dublin told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that documents in the land registry containing her name on the deed of transfer were not signed by her.
She described contacting Mr Byrne in 2004 when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and wanted to make a will.
Ms Costigan said she considered Mr Byrne a friend of her mother's as she was a piano teacher in Walkinstown and he was a former pupil.
After her mother's death in 2006, Mr Byrne asked if she and her four siblings would sell the house in Walkinstown they had inherited.
He said he had a client interested in buying. Ms Costigan said they were not ready to sell at that time, but later put the house on the market.
In 2007, Mr Byrne said his client would increase the sum offered to them by another potential buyer.
She said they later discovered Mr Byrne's practice was in trouble with the Law Society.
Ms Costigan was advised to contact the Land Registry and to her horror discovered that a deed of transfer had been lodged stating she had sold the house to Mr Byrne for €410,000.
She told the court the signature on the deed was not hers and she had never received any money for the house.
"I don’t know where I was on that date but I know where I wasn't and I wasn't with Thomas Byrne," she said.
During cross-examination by defence counsel, Ms Costigan said she did not think it was strange to contact Mr Byrne a year after the initial contact about the house to ask if his client was still interested.
She agreed she had given Mr Byrne the keys to the house to show a potential buyer.
Ms Costigan said she gave him the keys because "like my mother, I trusted him. I never thought he would do this with my mother's house".
However, she denied he had put tenants in the house and was collecting rent while waiting for the sale to go through.
In reply to a suggestion by defence counsel that he had tenants in the house, she said: "I don’t know if this is some kind of joke, but he did not have tenants in the house.
"The ESB bill will show there was no one there. There was no furniture, no bed. Someone could not have been living there."
She agreed the signature on the deed of transfer bore a resemblance to hers, but said it was not her signature.
The jury was shown copies of her signature on a garda statement.
Ms Costigan said Mr Byrne would have had many documents in his office with her signature from the time she was executor of her mother's will.
She denied she had agreed to sell the house to Mr Byrne and was due to be paid in November 2007.
Ms Costigan denied she had panicked when Mr Byrne's office closed in 2007 because she had not been paid.
The court was told the house was sold recently for half the money once on offer.
Ms Costigan’s husband Paul Costigan said the family had been through enormous stress in the past six years.
He described suggestions that Mr Byrne had tenants in the house as a complete fabrication.
He said the whole family had keys to the house and were in and out all the time.
"If someone was renting that house they must have been living in the coalshed. There wasn't a stick of furniture, no cooker, no cups. There was nothing in it" he said.
The jury was shown a transcript of text messages Mr Costigan said he received from Mr Byrne about the house.
He said Mr Byrne told him he had a client interested in buying the house for €430,000.
Mr Byrne is on trial charged with 51 theft, deception, fraud and forgery offences involving six banks, €50m and 12 properties in Dublin.
The 47-year-old from Mountjoy Square in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to the charges.