'Cunning' Byrne sentenced to 12 years for €52m theft

Former solicitor Thomas Byrne has been jailed for 12 years for stealing €52m from the banks and defrauding 13 clients out of their houses or money.

'Cunning' Byrne sentenced to 12 years for €52m theft

A rogue solicitor has been sentenced to 16 years in jail over a €52m property loans swindle – the largest theft case in Irish history.

Thomas Byrne, of Mountjoy Square, Dublin, was found unanimously guilty of 50 charges of theft, forgery and deception after a trial lasting six weeks.

The final four years have been suspended on the condition he is of good behaviour on his release.

In a years-long plot, which came crashing down around him in 2007, the 47-year-old had fraudulently passed more than a dozen clients’ homes into his own name and used them as security to take out massive bank loans.

But defence lawyer Damien Colgan said Byrne had lost everything – including his successful business, his family, his dignity and self-respect as well as his life as such for years to come – since his scheme unravelled.

“Perhaps like a house of cards, it all collapsed in a matter of moments,” he said.

Handing down the sentence at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, Judge Patrick McCartan described the scale of the plot as staggering and colossal, adding that it involved considerable skill and cunning.

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