The serial conman who conned a London Irish rugby official out of €7,610 for non-existent Six Nations rugby tickets deserves "an honours certificate" for the homework and research he put into the scam.
That is according to the latest victim of fraudster, Patrick Sheedy (52) of Cliona Park, Moyross, Limerick, who was this week sentenced to nine months in jail for the deception.
In an interview, International Ticket Co-Ordinator with London Irish Amateur club, Peter Whiteside, described Sheedy’s scam “as something like out of a movie”.
Mr Whiteside said “I am angry at myself for being suckered” by Sheedy. He said: “I didn’t see it coming."
The 79-year-old native of Dublin - who has had a long career in the oil trading business in London - said: "I got conned by a con artist - I hadn’t been conned by a con artist ever in my life and I have been around the houses. I haven’t come down in the last shower and I know what a con man and a scam is”.
Mr Whiteside joins a list of unsuspecting victims of Sheedy whose criminal life of deception stretches back 32 years to when he first appeared at Limerick District Court on a forgery charge in February 1989 at the age of 19. He has 63 previous convictions under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act
Sheedy has been described previously by Judge Patrick Durcan as “a master of deception” and at Ennis District Court on Wednesday, Judge Mary Larkin said that one of the aggravating factors in the case was Sheedy’s recidivism and as his latest offences were committed on bail, the nine-month sentence was added to the three-and-a-half year term Sheedy is currently serving at Portlaoise Prison.
Speaking from London in the aftermath of Sheedy’s conviction, Mr Whiteside recalls how he received a phone call from a man purporting to be a member of Cork Constitution rugby club in late 2019 who recommended over the phone that a Patrick Sheedy was a good contact for rugby tickets.
Mr Whiteside said that "the Cork Con man told me Patrick Sheedy is associated with World Rugby and he has surplus tickets for the England/Ireland match at Twickenham as the Japanese rugby delegation has decided to cancel”.
Mr Whiteside spoke to a friend in London who told him that he "knows the Cork Con man very well and that he is a sound man and if he says this Patrick Sheedy ticket source is genuine, you should have no problem. Of course, I now believe that it was Patrick Sheedy impersonating the Cork Con man over the phone”.
Mr Whiteside then made contact with Patrick Sheedy to arrange the eventual purchase of 48 tickets for the February 2020 Ireland v England match that London Irish Amateur Club would then sell on as corporate packages to help finance the club for the year.
He said: “After I had made contact with Sheedy, the man from Cork Con phoned me back and asks me ‘are you happy with Patrick Sheedy?' And I told him, 'it is all going very well at the moment' and he told me ‘Peter, he is a sound man and you can trust him’."
Mr Whiteside said that Sheedy had carried out his research into him. He said: “He knew I was from Dublin, that I was a member of Portmarnock. He even said to me that his son was coming over for a Munster/Saracaens match in London and could I find a hotel for him and chat, chat, chat - it all glued together.”
Mr Whiteside transferred the monies to a Kilrush post office account in Mr Sheedy’s name and arranged a rendezvous with Mr Sheedy at a London hotel in January 2020 to collect the tickets.
Mr Whiteside recalls: "Five minutes before he was due to arrive, Sheedy phones me to say that his niece had committed suicide and he has fly back from London to Dublin in a hurry. He told me that he had the tickets and that he would DHL the tickets to me”.
It was at that moment that Mr Whiteside’s suspicions were raised and he phoned the rugby officer at Cork Con who had recommended Sheedy.
Mr Whiteside - who emigrated from Dublin to London over 55 years ago in 1965 - said that the man from Cork Con told him: "Peter, I have never spoken to you in my life before, I don’t know who you are.” The TCD economics graduate said that Sheedy "had gone to great lengths to convince everyone he was kosher".
He asked: "Why did the guy waste so much time and done so much research for €7,000? He was very efficient. He would answer his mobile after three rings. He would answer an email by return. He must have made a 100 phone calls to me. Fifty emails. I have got a file two inches thick.”
Mr Whiteside said that gardaí were alerted after it was obvious that Sheedy - who engaged in scams to fund a gambling addiction - didn’t have the tickets and Mr Whiteside said “the gardaí have been absolutely fantastic”.
Mr Whiteside said that he agrees with the comments made by Sheedy’s solicitor, Daragh Hassett, in court that Sheedy is a very bright individual.
Mr Whiteside said: "I think Sheedy is incredibly intelligent. He is not stupid. He is a bit naive. If he had taken a different direction in life, he would have been a very successful PR man. He talks the talk.” Mr Whiteside rang around to check that Mr Sheedy was legitimate before transferring the monies.
He said: "Every time I rang someone to check his credentials it was all wishy washy. There were no flashing lights. I don’t know how he managed to remain under the radar for so long."
The long-time member of London Irish Amateur club says that he is angry that Sheedy targeted a non-profit organisation for his gain. He said: “I can’t believe that he decided to go after the rugby community and an amateur club."
Mr Whiteside said: “Sheedy probably doesn’t show the shape of a rugby ball but when it came to rugby tickets, he knew what he was talking about”.