Former solicitor accused of thefts totalling €51m
on 10/10/2013 00:00:00
Yesterday, prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell SC told the jury that many of My Byrne's clients were elderly women.
The jury was told that the events they will hear about occurred at "the very zenith of the Celtic Tiger".
Mr Farrell said the trial will rely on a large amount of documents which the jury will have to examine. He warned it will not be "a exciting or sexy trial", but that they will be the "hardest-working jury in the building for the next few weeks", as this case is not as simple as "two lads beating the head off each other outside a chipper".
Counsel said most of the alleged offences followed a similar pattern, consisting of Mr Byrne transferring ownership of a house into his name using a forged deed of transfer. He would then use this property as security to secure millions of euro in finance from banks. In some instances, he allegedly used the same property to extract money from multiple institutions.
Mr Farrell said that, in 2002, Patricia Dunne made a will with Mr Byrne's firm. In it, she left her home on Bunting Rd, Walkinstown, to her children, including Michael Dunne, a friend of Mr Byrne.
In 2007, news began to emerge that Mr Byrne's practice was in trouble and that the Law Society was involved. Counsel said several clients began to inquire and "the whole thing came crashing down like a house of cards".
Mr Dunne found that his mother's house had been transferred into Mr Byrne's name and that the solicitor had secured two mortgages against it.
Mr Farrell said there would be evidence that Mr Byrne forged a deed of transfer for the house, stating that he bought it from Ms Dunne in 2002 for €240,000. Counsel said it is not credible that Ms Dunne sold the house to Mr Byrne as, just three weeks previously, she had made a will leaving it to her children. He said she had never mentioned selling it and continued living in it for years after the supposed sale.
The trial resumes today.