herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Fraudster Byrne used false name to get cafe lease

Convicted and jailed crooked solicitor Thomas Byrne lied about his identity five years ago so he could lease a top Temple Bar restaurant, a judge heard.

Barrister Angus Buttanshaw, during an application by landlord Ciaran McGrath to re-possess his restaurant, told the Circuit Civil Court there was now no issue between Mr McGrath and Byrne over the identity subterfuge.

He said property owner Mr McGrath of Duke Street, Dublin, in 2009 had sub-leased the Great Strand Street restaurant, Foam Café, to a Thomas Davis which turned out to be an alias used by Thomas Byrne.

Mr Buttanshaw said Mr McGrath believed Byrne had wished to conceal his true identity because he feared the landlord would not have consented to an assignment of the restaurant lease to him if he was aware of who he really was.

Mr McGrath, in an affidavit, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that Thomas Byrne was formerly a practising solicitor who in November last year had been convicted of serious criminal offences involving theft and forgery for which he had been jailed for 16 years, consecutive terms of nine and seven years.

Mr McGrath said the last four years of the double sentences were suspended by the court and he had no doubt that the Thomas Davis with whom he had dealt in 2009 was Thomas Byrne now in Mountjoy Prison where he had been served with the civil bill for re-possession.

Mr Buttanshaw said there was no controversy about this. While the café seemed to thrive, Byrne had made irregular payments and significant arrears had built up.

He told the court that while the defendant was now in prison and not trading from the premises, a café business was still being carried on there.

The landlord said he believed the parties running the café were Thomas Butler and Barbara Egan, both of an apartment in Mountjoy Square, Dublin, and may be operating through a company, Foam Café Limited, of which they were directors.

They and their company had been served with the legal proceedings.

Judge Linnane granted Mr McGrath judgment for arrears of €55,490 in default of appearance and an order for possession against Byrne and "all persons in occupation of the premises" including Thomas Butler and Barbara Egan.

CONVICTION

The judge directed that possession of the restaurant be given back to the landlord within seven days of the service of her order and awarded legal costs against Byrne.

Byrne, Butler and Egan were all called in the court and outside but none of them appeared.

Rogue solicitor Byrne was struck off the solicitors roll in 2008 after it emerged he had taken out multiple mortgages on properties and used client funds to finance a lavish lifestyle.

He worked in The Foam Café prior to his conviction and sentence last year for organising a colossal €52m property scam.

hnews@herald.ie

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