Thomas Byrne thanks former clients and colleagues for not 'going to town on him'

Wednesday 06 November 2013 19.21
Thomas Byrne broke down in tears again during today's hearing
Thomas Byrne broke down in tears again during today's hearing

Former solicitor Thomas Byrne has told his fraud trial he wanted to thank former clients and colleagues for not "going to town on him" in the witness box.

Despite saying 11 witnesses had lied when giving evidence against him, Mr Byrne said they could have been a lot more unpleasant in their testimony.

He broke down in tears as he refused to say that his evidence meant he was accusing them of being involved in a scam.

Mr Byrne denies 50 charges of fraud, theft and forgery involving more than €50m.

He claims clients, whose properties were transferred into his name, had agreements with him and were "caught in the crossfire" when his practice was shut down by the Law Society.

Prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell asked if he was not angry that all these people were "swearing a hole through a bucket and trying to land him in jail".

Mr Byrne said he had a lot to be angry about but had a kind of stoicism that might be unusual.

Asked if all the witnesses had engaged in a scam to tell the same lies to the Law Society, Mr Byrne said he would not say they were involved in a scam.

"I simply refuse to say that," he said.

Mr Farrell said he may not utter the words, but that was the effect of his evidence.

Mr Byrne broke down and said he respected his clients and he would not say that about them.

Mr Farrell said he was giving him the opportunity to decide if he wanted to persist with his evidence, which made perjurers out of these people he clearly had affection for.

Mr Byrne said he deeply regretted being there and all the circumstances surrounding it, but he came to tell the truth and he did not intend to stop telling the truth.

Mr Farrell asked if it was just unfortunate that friends and colleagues had given untruthful evidence, other witnesses who "had no dog in the race" had also given the same evidence and there was not a single scrap of paper recording the arrangements he was outlining and the files were no longer available.

He asked: "Are you just a very unfortunate man?" Mr Byrne replied: "Yes, I am."

Earlier, he said he did not try to stop his colleague reporting him to the Law Society.

On his fourth day in the witness box, Mr Byrne said once Barbara Cooney had made up her mind to go to the Law Society he believed she was doing the right thing.

He said he may have said to her at one point that he would try to sort everything out, but he had not tried to stop her.

Mr Byrne said he was surprised to hear she had been sued over an undertaking for a property loan on which her name had been forged by him.

He also said a partnership agreement drawn up between him and property developer John Kelly had no reality to it.

It was created to give comfort to the Law Society in 2001 to show he would be able to fill a deficit in his client accounts.

Mr Byrne also conceded that he had not registered loans against different properties between 2004 and 2007, so he could put those same properties up as security for further loans from other banks.

Asked why, he replied: "The reason was that I was being threatened by Mr Kelly and he had a voracious appetite for funds.

"I was constantly under threat. My family were constantly under threat to procure those loans for him.

"He threatened violence and worse on myself and my family and I used those properties on numerous occasions to procure finance on behalf of Mr Kelly."