The downfall of a serial bigamist and conman

Hoarding may be a symptom of deep-rooted emotional problems, Oliver J Killeen once said when asked in his apparent capacity as a psychologist to contribute to a newspaper article on people who had trouble clearing their cupboards.

The bogus practitioner could have been speaking about himself for over a period of almost 30 years he collected at least 19 wives without legally clearing his next impending nuptials.

Killeen, a 75-year-old conman from Castlebar, Co Mayo, was in prison this week after being convicted of bigamy, his past finally catching up with him in Toronto, Canada, his home on and off since the 1950s, after a relentless campaign by the daughter of one of the women he duped to see him brought him justice.

Barbara Daniels, now 70, was one of Killeen’s earliest victims, becoming his third wife in 1978 while he was still married to Agnes Cloney, a woman he’d married after the death of his first wife, Castlebar native Mary, with whom he’d emigrated to Canada and had nine children.

Daniels left him in 1985 but was later shocked to discover that she could not divorce him because he was still married to his second wife.

Killeen, meanwhile, had been imprisoned for cheque fraud, married again twice and conned his victims out of tens of thousands of dollars, before avoiding a further criminal investigation by taking off to Britain.

Over the next 15 years he moved between the UK and Ireland, charming and cheating a series of women, robbing their bank accounts while stealing their hearts.

While he clocked up most of his marriages in Britain, it was in Ireland that he perpetrated one of his biggest shams, setting himself up as a psychologist in Waterford.

He even offered his services as a media commentator and became a frequent contributor to newspapers and radio shows, spoofing convincingly about stress, sexual abuse, and, ironically, relationship troubles.

It was his role in counselling a victim of sexual abuse that brought him to the attentions of the authorities here when a 2001 court case heard the unfortunate victim had first been counselled by a practitioner with convictions for gross indecency.

In teasing out how this could have happened, a solicitor asked about the credentials of the new counsellor, one Oliver J Killeen PhD. Killeen claimed his qualifications came from a Canadian institute and said he had not registered as a practitioner in Ireland because he had not decided if he would stay in the country long term.

During an adjournment, the solicitor probed deeper and found the institute had never heard of their apparent former student. Killeen was requested to return to court to explain himself but he never did and disappeared back to Canada.

On a trip to Britain in 2004, however, he discovered the law was also waiting for him there and, on foot of complaints by one of his wives, he received a three-year sentence for bigamy.

Out of prison after 18 months, he returned to Canada, this time pursued by a documentary maker who went on to make the 2006 film, The Conman With 14 Wives. Given the publicity it generated, nobody seriously expected the tally would be 19 by the time Barbara Daniels’ daughter, Julia Lafleur, had gathered enough evidence to convince the Canadian authorities to prosecute him.

However, 19 may be a conservative estimate. Killeen has hinted there could be more and bragged he doesn’t even remember some of their names.And given that his current 90-day prison sentence is to be served only at weekends on account of his age, he still has five days in the week to resist the temptation of his hoarding habits.


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