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23 Jan 2022

Tullamore man facing six and a half year prison sentence in €250,000 theft case pays €30,000 compensation

UPDATE: Tullamore man in €250,000 theft case pays €30,000 compensation

A six-and-a-half-year suspended sentence had previously been imposed on Laurence Murphy at Tullamore Circuit Court

A Tullamore man facing a six-and-a-half year jail sentence for stealing up to €250,000 when he posed as a leading auctioneer has paid another €30,000 towards people he duped.

Tullamore Circuit Court was told on Thursday that the money has been transferred into the account of the Offaly State Solicitor and will be used to compensate one of the victims of Laurence Murphy, Clonminch.

Defence counsel Kenneth Fogarty told Judge Keenan Johnson that the money was now in the account as had been directed by the judge on Tuesday.

Mr Fogarty said the indications currently were that the balance of compensation would be paid by December 20.

Sandra Mahon, State Solicitor, confirmed the €30,000 had cleared in her account and Judge Johnson directed that it be given to the person who suffered the biggest loss.

He then adjourned the matter to December 21 for the balance.

On Tuesday the court was told by Aisling Maloney, solicitor for Mr Murphy, that a third party had agreed to loan €30,000 to Mr Murphy.

Ms Maloney said the money was being loaned on the provision that a site on which Mr Murphy's mother has applied to build a house is sold.

Offaly County Council granted permission for the development, however, it was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanala last October and a decision on that is due on January 5 next.

Judge Johnson said on Tuesday that he had been told the total balance of the money owed, which is €85,000, would be in court that day and he recalled hearing previously about all of these “fantastic shares’’ owned by Mr Murphy that were to be sold.

Judge Johnson said he had no sympathy for Mr Murphy and the only reason he was “nursing the case along” was so the injured parties would be compensated.

The judge said this case has been going on for a long time and he was “browned off” of it. On top of the €30,000, he wanted another €81,000 paid by the end of the December Circuit Court sittings.

A suspended sentence was imposed on Mr Murphy in November 2019 for offences committed in 2016.

Sums amounting up to €250,000 were obtained by the defendant when 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 when proposals were made to raise compensation.

One of the sentencing hearings had been told Mr Murphy had paid €2,700 in compensation for the offences.

The accused, a father of a teenage boy, 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.

The developer paid over two cheques for €25,000 to Mr Murphy, believing he was paying Savills.

The man received a receipt with a Savills logo and another with a forged signature.

When the developer 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.

One victim asked how Mr Murphy could walk the streets in his expensive suit and overcoat.

Judge Johnson said Mr Murphy had a cavalier attitude to the court and had funded a lavish lifestyle with his victims' money.

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