Solicitor trial jury raises question about duress

Solicitor trial jury raises question about duress

The jury has raised a question about the defence of duress at the €52m theft and fraud trial of former solicitor Thomas Byrne.

The 47-year-old with an address at Mountjoy Square, Dublin is alleged to have transferred his clients’ homes into his name and then used them as collateral for property loans.

During the trial Thomas Byrne gave evidence his former business partner John Kelly forced him to borrow €51.8m from the banks because they would no longer lend to him.

The accused claimed that the property developer threatened to kill him and his seven-year-old daughter if he didn’t co-operate.

Earlier Judge Patrick McCartan told the jurors that they cannot consider this as defence as Mr Byrne was not under duress in the legal sense of the word.

Two hours into their deliberations the jury returned to court seeking a clarification as to whether the judge was also disregarding duress in its human sense as put forward by defence lawyers.

The judge answered no and told the jury they must have regard to Thomas Byrne’s evidence as to why he did things.

He added that duress does not give Mr Byrne a defence to the offences.


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