Former solicitor Thomas Byrne has effectively admitted to defrauding the banks out of €52m, the prosecution said at the closing of his trial.
In his closing speech on day 22 of the trial, Remy Farrell SC said Mr Byrne has offered no defence to allegations that he lied and used fraudulent documents to obtain loans from six financial institutions. Mr Farrell said the case brings to mind a phrase he once heard: “You wouldn’t believe the radio in that fella’s car.”
He said Mr Byrne is “a gambler” who is possibly hoping the jury will feel that he is exonerated because the banks engaged in reckless lending.
Referring to the charges that the accused defrauded 11 clients out of their homes or money, Mr Farrell questioned why these people would sign away their houses “for absolutely no good reason”.
Mr Byrne claims he took possession of these houses legitimately to use as collateral for his bank loans. Mr Farrell asked, if this was the case, why was there no paper trail showing these legitimate deals? Defence counsel Damien Colgan SC told the jury there were “cracks” in the prosecution case and Mr Byrne must be given the benefit of the doubt.
He said his client got caught up “on a human level” in the bank’s reckless lending but always intended to repay the loans.
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 used them as collateral for property loans.
He has pleaded not guilty to 50 counts of theft, forgery, using forged documents, and deception between 2004 and 2007.
Referring to Mr Byrne’s claims that his clients agreed to sign over their properties to him with the promise of being paid later, Mr Farrell said: “Isn’t it amazing that not even a yellow Post-it note exists in relation to these deals. Mr Byrne’s defence seems to be that the dog ate his homework, not once, not twice, but 10 times or more.”
He said the accused was asking the jury to believe that 11 of Mr Byrne’s clients “spontaneously decided to make up a story” about him.”
He said that Mr Byrne has admitted defrauding the banks and has offered “no cogent defence”.
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