Thomas Byrne says loans went to developer John Kelly

Monday 04 November 2013 19.50
Thomas Byrne has pleaded not guilty to the charges
Thomas Byrne has pleaded not guilty to the charges

Former solicitor Thomas Byrne has told his trial he never benefitted from any of the loans he took out for property developer John Kelly.

He said he had returned to Ireland to face up to things and to tell the truth.

Mr Byrne is on trial charged with 50 theft, fraud and forgery offences involving 12 properties, six banks and more than €50m.

He denies the charges.

My Byrne said he lived in his car for four weeks with nothing in his pockets when he returned from England on the advice of his solicitor and ex-wife.

He said people he dealt with in banks either knew or did not care that the properties he was using as collateral for loans were already mortgaged.

"All they wanted was a solicitor's undertaking so they could release the funds for John Kelly", he said.

Mr Byrne again hit out at the prosecution and questioned why he was the only one before the courts in relation to the loans.

And he repeated calls for key bank witnesses to be called to give evidence.

In cross-examination he was asked why he did not call witnesses himself and he said: "My attitude is it is for you to prove my guilt not for me to prove my innocence".

He told prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell: "I know you are only interested in a verdict but I am interested in the truth."

He said key staff who worked in his office should have been called as witnesses to support what he was saying.

He repeated claims that he was under pressure when he took out the loans and forged a colleague's signature under duress.

However, when asked if duress was his defence, he said he knew the meaning of the word but did not know what it meant in criminal law.

Asked if he believed he was a victim in all of this, he said he knew if he never met Mr Kelly he would "not be sitting here today and my life would have gone a different way".

Earlier, he told the trial Mr Kelly had inveigled his way into his practice and used him to get loans.

He said Mr Kelly could not borrow money as he had no audited accounts or tax clearance.