Former solicitor pleads guilty to stealing client funds

Thursday 16 January 2014 18.48
Ruairi Ó Ceallaigh's case will be heard again next February
Ruairi Ó Ceallaigh's case will be heard again next February

A former solicitor has pleaded guilty to stealing client funds of almost €3m from his family-run law firm.

Officers from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation had arrested Ruairi Ó Ceallaigh, 42, by appointment last month and he was charged at Dublin District Court with seven offences under the Theft and Fraud Act.

He is accused of misappropriation of approximately €2.8m over a four-year period from accounts at law firm, Seán Ó Ceallaigh & Company, which is based in Phibsborough in Dublin.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had directed "trial on indictment", meaning his case is to be dealt with at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He appeared again at the district court today and was accompanied by his father, Seán Ó Ceallaigh, who has stood €5,000 bail for him.

Judge Patricia McNamara was told that a book of evidence did not need to be served because Mr Ó Ceallaigh's case would be going forward on a "signed plea" which was handed in to the court.

Mr Ó Ceallaigh, who has an address at Collegeland, Summerhill, said "I do indeed" to acknowledge that he understood the nature of charges and to confirm that he was pleading guilty.

He also said "yes" when asked by the judge: "You agree to your case going forward on this signed plea?"

Judge Ryan then ordered that he would go forward for sentencing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he will face his next hearing on 7 February next.

He was remanded on continuing bail and his father also told Judge McNamara that he would continue to act as his son's surety.

At his first hearing in December, Detective Sergeant Paschal Walsh had said the 42-year-old "had no reply" when he was charged.

Today, the detective also told Judge McNamara he was agreeable to the defendant's father acting as the surety and that no other bail conditions were being sought.

The ex-solicitor's charges state that between 30 September and 27 November 2008, he dishonestly appropriated €1,551,366, in relation to a named estate.

The remaining six counts relate to dishonest appropriation of various sums in client accounts of six other individuals.

In these matters, he is charged with dishonestly appropriating: €134,831 on 12 March 2009; €151,078 on 27 June 2009; €250,000 on 18 July 2006; €509,646 between 22 October 2009 and 28 May the following year; €75,000 on 22 October 2009 and €144,644 between 27 August and 30 September 2009.