Man pleads guilty to fraud

An investment broker has been remanded for sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on February 24 next after he pleaded guilty to falsesly obtaining over £250,000 from investors.

An investment broker has been remanded for sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on February 24 next after he pleaded guilty to falsesly obtaining over £250,000 from investors.

Patrick Blanchfield (aged 39), married but separated, formerly of Dean St, Kilkenny, now works as a debt collector in Britain.

Detective Garda John Bergin told prosecuting counsel Mr Paul Coffey SC he received 39 complaints totalling approximately £1,073,000 against Blanchfield in 1994. Blanchfield had closed his business and left the jurisdiction.

Mr Coffey (with Mr Dominic McGinn BL) said the court was dealing with 16 representative charges of fraud between 1986 and 1994 to which Blanchfield pleaded guilty.

Judge Michael White heard financial institutions paid £115,685 compensation to some of the injured parties while £90,000 is outstanding to the remaining victims.

Defence counsel, Mr Hugh Hartnett SC, said Blanchfield brought €60,000 (£51, 000) compensation to court and had promised to pay Stg£2,000 (€3,014)monthly to make up the balance.

Mr Hartnett said Blanchfield had not intended to defraud anyone but had ended up "stealing from Peter to pay Paul"due to his involvment in greyhounds and a gambling problem.

Judge White adjourned the case until February 24 on continuing bail to find out exactly when the injured parties that were compensated by the financial institutions received their cheques, how much money is owed to these institutions and how much interest is owed to all the injured parties.

Det Gda Bergin said he first received a complaint from a man who cashed in his Hibernian Insurance life policy worth over £7, 000 and authorised Blanchfield to pick up the cheque for him.

The injured party's name was signed on the back of the cheque and it was lodged in Blanchfield's own account on November 4, 1994.

Det Gda Bergin said this man pursued Blanchfield for his money but was told by him he had to go to Dublin as his uncle was having a heart by-pass operation. The injured party later found out from Hibernian that the cheque had been cashed by Blanchfield.

Another man gave £80, 000 compensation from a road traffic accident to Blanchfield to invest but Blanchfield cashed £30,000 of it in June 1996 and another £36,000 in November 1996.

A third man who gave him £4, 000 cash to obtain a mortgage in September 1994, was given a receipt and was later told by Blanchfield he had obtained a mortgage for him in EBS. However, when the business closed the injured party discovered no mortgage had been arranged.

Det Gda Bergin said a woman gave an £8, 000 bank draft to Blanchfield in November 1993 which he told her was invested in a tax-legitimate offshore account.

The woman signed an order for the withdrawal of this money in August 1994 but when there was no sign of it, she contacted Blanchfield who told her he was waiting for a cheque from Dublin.

When she contacted him again, the woman was told her account was being investigated for tax irregularities. Blanchfield told her he could give her £4, 000 in cash which she could pick up from his office. The woman received this money but the balance was still outstanding to her.

Another woman gave a bank draft worth £45,000 and a cheque for £48,000 to Blanchfield in November 1992 to invest for her in First National Building Society. She was given an account book which she kept updated until her account reached £130,600.

Det Gda Bergin said she gave her account book to Blanchfield but when she returned to his office two weeks later his business had closed. She had withdrawn £2,000 from her account which had been given to her in cash by Blanchfield.

A married couple gave £2,000 to Blanchfield in November 1994 to deposit for them in whatever financial institution would give them a mortgage and Blanchfield later told them they had been offered a mortgage by First National.

The couple spoke to First National themselves but found no arrangements had been made. They attempted to get their money back from Blanchfield but were told a girl in the office had deposited it in a 30-day account.

They returned after the 30 days to be told the money had been deposited in a 60-day account but when they returned again after this they found Blanchfield's office had been closed.

Det Gda Bergin said another man gave Blanchfield £10,566 to deposit in Irish Nationwide in August 1990. He was given an account book by Blanchfield and returned to his office every so often to record the interest paid to him.

When Blanchfield's office was closed, the man found out only £100 remained in his account although he had not authorised any withdrawals.

Det Gda Bergin said a second couple were dealing with Blanchfield as an auctioneer when they were trying to buy a house in Kilkenny for £51,000. He told them he could get them a cheap mortgage but they had to give him 10% of the value of the house.

They gave Blanchfield a cheque in November 1994 and were told a few weeks later that three companies had offered mortgages. However Blanchfield refused to name the companies and the couple began to feel he was avoiding them as he could never manage to meet them.

It was later discovered their cheque was lodged in his own account in Bank of Ireland in Kilkenny.

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