A financial adviser who pleaded guilty to defrauding customers out of over €200,000, but ended up without any trappings of wealth for his crimes, has been jailed for five years.

Mervyn Tanner, 46, of Buttery Court, Market Square, Mallow, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to several sample counts of fraud and forging documents on dates from November 2010 to December 2015.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court head that Tanner was "robbing from Peter to pay Paul" after he set up a business which primarily lent money to people struggling to obtain a loan elsewhere.

One of the victims in the case inherited money following the death of a sibling which she planned to use to pay off her mortgage. However, Tanner persuaded her to invest it and she is at a loss of €120,000 and still making mortgage payments.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said that what Tanner did was a "betrayal of her brother's memory".

Det Garda James O'Reilly told the court that the case involved five injured parties. Tanner was arrested by appointment in December 2018 after a concerned employee raised the alarm after being personally impacted by the fraudulent behaviour of the defendant.

Garda O'Reilly said Tanner produced fraudulent bank statements with some of his clients in a bid to pretend that all was well with the business. One man who invested in a scheme which Tanner advised him to join ended up being at a loss of over €40,000, while a doctor was at a loss of over €43,000 and another woman lost €5,000.

Barrister for the State, Ray Boland, said the guilty plea in the case was of enormous benefit given the complications that would have no doubt arisen in a lengthy and difficult trial.

Defence barrister James O'Mahony said that Tanner was a separated father of three who at one time ran a business which had up to 30 employees. He struggled with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger and was working on his own in Mallow having previously operated a firm in Cork city.

He said that Tanner was arranging loans for people who could not get loans otherwise and that some people he lent to did not repay. He stressed his client was a man without wealth.

"He lives a marginal life now. He only has his family home which is let out. There is a large negative equity on it. He has no trappings of wealth. He has not gone on expensive holidays, driving in Porches with expensive jewellery. He was robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Garda O'Reilly agreed that Tanner had not amassed any wealth from his wrong doing.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said Tanner was in a position of trust and "was singularly negligent in his duty" to his clients.

He said that the case was at the higher level of dishonesty and that a number of parties were harmed with no possibility of compensation.

Taking the value of the guilty plea into account, he jailed Tanner for seven years suspending the last two years of the sentence.