'Horror' at finding home in new name
on 12/10/2013 00:00:00
The trial heard from husband and wife Paul and Aideen Costigan. In 2006, Mr Byrne carried out work for the couple relating to the sale of a house left by Ms Costigan's deceased mother.
Ms Costigan told the court Mr Byrne arranged the sale of the house to a third party but that she later found to her "horror" he had transferred the property into his name by using an allegedly forged signature.
Mr Costigan said the house was "tied up in the courts" for the following six years and that they recently sold it for less than half what they were offered when Mr Byrne became involved.
The jury were shown the allegedly forged signature of Ms Costigan side-by-side with the genuine signature on her Garda statement. Ms Costigan insisted to defence counsel Damien Colgan SC it was not her signature, but said it bore a resemblance.
She told Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, that she considered Mr Byrne a friend of her mother's, and that her mother trusted him.
When her mother passed away in 2006, Mr Byrne attended her funeral and sympathised with Ms Costigan. He was tasked with executing her will and transferring the family home to the deceased's five children.
Ms Costigan gave evidence that, shortly afterwards, Mr Byrne said he had a client who wanted to buy the property for €410,000. She and her siblings decided to put the house on the open market to see if they could get a higher price.
She said this resulted in an offer from a new party of €420,000. Ms Costigan went back to Mr Byrne, who said his client would raise his offer to €430,000.
The family accepted this offer and Mr Byrne said the sale would be completed within four weeks.
Ms Costigan said a short time later she became aware Mr Byrne's practice was in trouble and that the Law Society was involved. She said she tried to contact him but he did not answer his phone.
She said she was advised by a lawyer friend to check the status of the house on the Land Registry. When she did so, she found it was in the name of Mr Byrne.
A document which appeared to be signed by Ms Costigan stated Mr Byrne had purchased the house from her for €410,000.
Ms Costigan said she never received such a sum and that she never signed the document.
She also rejected a suggestion that she had an agreement to allow Mr Byrne rent the house to tenants while the transfer was being processed. She said nobody was living in the house and it contained no furniture.