Former solicitor Thomas Byrne broke down in tears as he thanked his past clients and alleged victims for the “fair evidence” they gave in his trial and for “not going to town on me”.
On his third day of cross-examination during his €52m theft and fraud trial, Mr Byrne agreed with Remy Farrell, prosecuting, that it was “a striking feature” of his evidence that he “spoke with genuine affection” for his former clients.
Mr Byrne said he couldn’t comment on a suggestion from Mr Farrell they seemed to have “a residual affection for you” before starting to cry in the witness box.
“I was very much struck by the way all of my clients gave their evidence.”
He refused to accept a suggestion that these people had all turned on him and hung him out to dry.
“No, they gave evidence because they had to. None of them went to town on their evidence and they were very fair,” he said.
Mr Byrne, aged 47, of Walkinstown Rd, Crumlin, is accused of theft and fraud offences totalling €51.8m. The charges allege he transferred clients’ homes into his name and then used them as collateral for property loans.
He has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 50 counts of theft, forgery, using forged documents and deception between 2004 and 2007.
Mr Byrne did not accept a suggestion from Mr Farrell that on his account, each of his clients had, “independently of each other”, come up with a scam of going to the Law Society and telling them “a pack of lies” in order to get the deeds of transfer for their properties returned to them.
“Collectively what they have in common is that they were all caught in the crossfire when my practice closed. It is not a scam. I will refuse to say it, because that is not my opinion,” Mr Byrne told the jury.
He acknowledged there was not “a single jot of paper, not a yellow Post-It” that documented what Mr Farrell termed “an extraordinary and unorthodox agreement” between him and his clients in relation to transferring their homes to him on the understanding that he would give them the agreed funds at a later date.
“This is very unfortunate given where you are now,” Mr Farrell suggested.
“Yes, extremely,” said Mr Byrne.
He said it was his evidence files existed in relation to each of the alleged victims but said he didn’t know where these files are.
The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan.
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