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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020

Thomas Byrne sentenced to 12 years in jail for fraud and theft

The former solicitor was found guilty of 50 charges in the State’s largest-ever fraud trial last month.

Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated 11.25pm

FORMER SOLICITOR THOMAS Byrne has been handed a sentence of 16 years at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this afternoon, with the final four years suspended.

It comes after the 47-year-old was found guilty of 50 charges, including theft, fraud, deception and forgery, last month.

He was sentenced to nine years for theft from banks and seven years for forgery in relation to the fraudulent transfer of property. The terms will run consecutively with the last four years suspended.

Byrne was also handed a number of five year sentences for forgery offences which will run concurrently with the other sentences.

The jail term officially started on the date of his conviction on 18 November.

In sentencing him this afternoon, Judge Patrick McCartan said that the scale of Byrne’s offences as “colossal”.

“The thefts required careful planning and execution. They weren’t just dipping into the till. It was all very cunning”, he said.

McCartan added that he had caused “considerable” damage to the reputation of his profession and that his crimes must be regarded towards the upper end of the ten year guideline for fraud offences.

The judge said that “without solicitors, commerce and civil society wouldn’t function” and that as a result they are as a result given a significant degree of trust. “Byrne abused every aspect of that status and trust,” he said.

Byrne denied all charges but was found guilty by a jury after a drawn-out, 27-day trial and more than 17 hours of deliberations.

Judge McCartan said he had to consider consecutive sentences given the extent of criminality, monies unaccounted for and breach of trust.

The charges detailed how he transferred the homes of his clients into his name and used them to obtain property loans.

His actions came to light when one of his employees reported him to the Law Society for forging her name to borrow money.

Earlier today, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard a summation of the evidence from Detective Sgt. Paschal Walsh on the litany of offences committed by Byrne.

The evidence showed how Byrne fraudulently obtained properties from clients and associates and used them to secure loans totaling in excess of €50 million.

The 18 separate loan applications from various financial institutions ranged in value from €1 million to €9 million.


Vera McGrane, one of the victims of Byrne’s offences, leaving court after the sentence. Pic: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

In falsely claiming ownership of the properties, Byrne falsified signatures in a number of cases, at least two of the cases involved elderly women known to him.

The judge was asked to consider the ease with which Byrne committed his offences. Judge McCartan did make reference to the fact that at the time Dublin’s property market was “at boiling point”. Adding that Byrne was indeed headhunted by a number of institutions for his businesses. This, however, could not be given undue credence the judge said.

“It ignores the fact that thousands of others abided by the law and didn’t committhe scale of fraud that you did.”

The offences occurred between dates in September 2004 and 2007 when Byrne was solicitor based in Walkinstown.

Following the earlier summation of the evidence, Judge McCartan praised investigating gardaí for the way they presented the evidence in the six-week long trial.

“In particular the way you marshalled the evidence to be understood for everyone, including myself but especially the jury,” he told the court.

Reporting by Rónán Duffy

Read: Thomas Byrne found guilty of 50 charges in fraud trial

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