'Front man' of €1m fraud given four years in prison

The "front man" of a complex fraud in which front companies and false identities were used to scam almost €1m from leading businesses has been given a four-year sentence by Judge Tony Hunt.

The "front man" of a complex fraud in which front companies and false identities were used to scam almost €1m from leading businesses has been given a four-year sentence by Judge Tony Hunt.

David Neill (aged 49) used the false identities "Mark Roche" and "David Roche" during the €800,000 fraud, with victims including multinationals and one Irish company which had to close due to its €423,186 losses.

Neill, of Merton Walk, Mount St Anne's, Milltown, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 15 charges, including obtaining goods, services and credit by deception, registering false details and possession of a fake driving licence on dates between May and November 2002.

His co-accused, Darren Cahill (aged 35) and Stephen Doyle (aged 36), who were described as "gullible foot soldiers", were last month given four-year suspended sentences by Judge Hunt.

Cahill, of Howth Road, Clontarf, and Doyle, of Main Street, Beaupark, Clongriffin each pleaded guilty to 10 counts of dishonestly obtaining goods and other related offences on dates in 2002.

Neill had three previous convictions, including one for acknowledging bail in the name of another person.

Judge Hunt suspended the final two years of the sentence on conditions.

Prosecuting counsel, Ms Pauline Walley SC, told Judge Hunt previously that the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided to drop all 49 charges against a fourth co-accused following Neill’s guilty plea.

Inspector Declan Daly told Mr Dominic McGinn BL (prosecuting with Ms Walley), that the confidence of legitimate companies was won over by initial payments for goods and after a fake credit history and fake trade references were given, over the phone by the fraudsters themselves in some cases.

Orders were then ramped up and direct debit bank mandates set up for payment were cancelled while the goods were sold on at a discount of 25% off the cost price to traders.

Big multinationals were defrauded, including Robert Roberts, which lost €161,300; Coca-Cola lost €53,700; Lever Faberge lost just under €79,000; and Johnson Brothers lost €18,500.

Insp Daly said the losses of Inter Euro Services were so great at €423,186 that it had to cease trading.

Other creditors included the landlords of three premises rented by the fraudsters, financial institutions who facilitated the hire purchase of two BMW cars and four laptops, as well as Eircom and Vodafone.

Insp Daly agreed with defence counsel, Mr Sean Guerin BL, that the investigation was still open in relation to two other persons, one of whom used the identity "Ashley Brooks" and was believed to have taken "the lion’s share" of the profits.

He said the goods were sold on to traders for cash by "Brooks" at a discount of 25% off the cost price.

Mr Guerin submitted that Neill, a separated father of two, was a failed businessman who had not benefited in any significant way from the fraud. He had not re-offended in the last six years and apologised to his victims.

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