Struck-off solicitor sent for trial over alleged theft of €52m

Struck-off solicitor sent for trial over alleged theft of €52m

Struck-off solicitor Thomas Byrne has been sent forward for trial accused of stealing approximately €52m in connection with mortgages taken out on more than 20 properties in Dublin.

Today the 45-year-old made his third appearance at Dublin District Court. The ex-lawyer, who formerly had a solicitor's practice in Walkinstown, in Dublin, was served with a four-volume book of evidence, by Det Sergeant Paschal Walsh, of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.

Solicitor Catherine Irvine, for the State, told Judge Denis McLoughlin that the DPP had consented to the accused, who faces 52 charges, being sent forward for trial.

Mr Byrne, who was dressed in a black overcoat with a fur trim collar, a grey stripped suit, yellow tie and white tipped shoes, has not yet indicated how he intends to plead.

Judge McLoughlin notified him at the brief hearing that if he planned to use an alibi as part of his defence, he must notify the State within 14 days. The defendant did not address the court but nodded indicating that he understood.

Defence counsel Sean O Siothchain (instructed by solicitor David Christie) asked Judge McLoughlin to grant legal aid, to include representation of senior counsel for Mr Byrne.

“Significant sums are involved, Mr Byrne would be at risk,” Mr O Siothchain explained.

Judge McLoughlin agreed and then ordered the defendant's return for trial to the present term of the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The ex-solicitor was then remanded on bail.

In December, he had initially been charged by fraud squad detectives with dishonestly appropriating the sum of €1,887,415 entrusted to him for the purpose of discharging a loan with Permanent TSB. He was also accused of stealing €198,742 which had been given to him for the purpose of paying stamp duty in the purchase of an apartment building at Upper Dorset Street, in Dublin 1.

At his next court appearance, on February 3, 50 additional charges under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act were brought against him.

Mr Byrne, of Walkinstown Road, Dublin 12, but who also has an address at Aungier St, in Dublin 2, faces 14 counts of making of false instruments including deeds of transfer and assignments of properties; eight counts of using false instruments; nine charges of deception; and 21 theft charges in connection with mortgages taken out on more than 20 private residences across Dublin.

In the theft charges it is alleged he stole sums totalling approximately €52m from: National Irish Bank, IIB, Irish Nationwide Building Society, EBS, Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Scotland, from 2004 until September 2007.

Earlier, Mr Byrne had been ordered, as a condition of bail, to surrender his passport to gardaí and not to apply for a new one. He made no comment when the charges were put to him, the District Court has heard.

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