Offaly man facing jail over land deals pays back €20,000

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Offaly man facing jail over land deals pays back €20,000

Man will be back in Tullamore Circuit Court on June 29

THE Offaly man who pretended he was working for Savills Auctioneers and duped investors in land deals has paid €20,000 in compensation, Tullamore Circuit Court heard on Friday morning (March 26).

Laurence Murphy, 39, Clonminch, Tullamore, is facing six-and-a-half years in jail unless he pays back €140,000 he stole from two men who believed they were using his services to invest in property.

On March 18 Mr Murphy undertook to pay €20,000 by bank draft and the matter was adjourned for a week for confirmation the money would clear.

When the case was called on Thursday morning Judge Keenan Johnson was told by defence counsel Niall Flynn, BL, that the money was being transferred from his solicitor's bank account to the account of the Offaly State Solicitor.

Because it had not yet appeared in the State Solicitor's account, an adjournment was granted to this morning.

Kevin White, BL, prosecuting, told Judge Johnson he could confirm the money had cleared and he applied for a further adjournment to the next Circuit Court sessions on June 29 for the remainder of the compensation.

Mr White reminded Judge Johnson that he had previously indicated the matter would be put back again on the basis that Mr Murphy was going to come forward with proposals to pay the rest of the money.

Judge Johnson granted the adjournment to June 29 and said it was his understanding that Mr Murphy had interests in companies which are to be sold.

“I expect monies to be here the next day. Time is of the essence in relation to this now and I expect those funds to be reimbursed in full to the victims the next day.”

Last week he ordered that when the €20,000 was paid it was to be given to the man who was at the largest loss, an individual who was due €105,000.

Another man is at a loss of €35,000, the court was told earlier.

Tullamore Circuit Court heard on March 11 that Mr Murphy's conviction and suspended sentence arose when he obtained money while he was holding himself out as a property consultant and a man who was working for Savills Auctioneers.

That turned out not to be the case and the money which was obtained for the purpose of purchasing property, or putting down deposits, was never used for that purpose.

Instead, it was put into Mr Murphy's own account in AIB and never returned to the injured parties and no property was ever bought.

Mr Murphy entered a guilty plea in November 2018 and sentencing was then adjourned on a number of occasions for proposals from the accused to raise compensation.

The first proposal was that a loan secured against his mother's home be obtained and subsequently Mr Murphy proposed to sell a site at the rear of the family home but that fell through because the local authority would not grant planning permission for development there.

Mr Murphy told the court that he had started a hospitality business in December 2019 but it was totally wiped out in March 2020 and he was subsequently got involved with a technology company.

He said he also had a percentage shareholding which he could have released by the end of May and which would realise €187,000.

Judge Johnson told the accused, a father of one teenage child, that he deserved to be in jail because what he had done was outrageous, fraudulently producing receipts from Savills and stealing money from vulnerable people who were led up the garden path.

A previous sentencing hearing had been told Mr Murphy had paid €2,700 in compensation for the offences and he was said to have a dissociative personality disorder. He had worked in auctioneering all his life.

He had opened a bank account in the name of Savills and while acting as an agent for that firm, approached a developer saying he was selling land in Tullamore and in Duleek, Co Meath.

Cheques were paid over to Mr Murphy, believing he was paying Savills and the man making the payment received a receipt with a Savills logo and another with a forged signature.

When the man rang Savills he was told Mr Murphy did not work for them and was never employed by them.

Mr Murphy also received deposits from a number of people, including a pregnant woman, for rental properties which did not exist.

The full amount stolen by Mr Murphy was up to €250,000.