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‘Huge pressure’ in Lynn office, trial hears
Pic: RollingNews.ie

15 Nov 2023 / courts Print

‘Huge pressure’ in Lynn office, trial hears

A legal executive for former solicitor Michael Lynn has told his trial that she signed another solicitor's name on undertakings at his instruction because there was “fear” there, and that she was under “horrendous” pressure at the time.

Mr Lynn (55), of Millbrook Court, Redcross, Co Wicklow, is on trial accused of the theft of around €27 million from seven financial institutions. He has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between 23 October 2006 and 20 April 2007.

It is the prosecution’s case that Lynn (pictured) obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties, in a situation where banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing finance.

‘On call 24/7’

Yesterday (14 November), former legal executive with Michael Lynn & Co Solicitors, Liz Doyle, gave evidence. She told John Berry BL, prosecuting, that she worked as a legal executive in the firm.

Doyle told the trial there was “huge pressure” in the office. “There was never a day where you could switch off,” she said. “You were on call 24/7. Constant phone calls, constant emails – it was difficult.”

Doyle was brought through a mix of documents – including statements of affairs and solicitor's’ undertakings. In a number of these, she agreed that she had signed the name ‘Fiona McAleenan’, who was a solicitor in the practice at the time.

Doyle said that she had signed McAleenan's name “at the instruction of Mr Lynn”. She said that he told her he had spoken with McAleenan, and that McAleenan had authorised Doyle to sign her signature.


Doyle said that she had also signed the Kinsella Mitchell and Associates' signature – again at the instruction of Lynn. Kinsella Mitchell and Associates were auditors for Michael Lynn and Co Solicitors.

Doyle said that she did not apply the Kinsella Mitchell stamp to those same documents, and did not know who did. The court has heard evidence from John Kinsella that the stamp used was not his company stamp.

When asked by Berry why she had signed ‘Kinsella Mitchell’, Doyle said: “Because I followed Mr Lynn's instructions.” When asked why she followed his instructions, she replied: “Because there was a fear there at this stage, so I followed his instructions.”

“The pressure in the office was absolutely horrendous at that time,” she said. “We were working long hours from early morning to late evenings, and the pressure was still there when you got home. It was just huge pressure.”

‘I knew it wasn’t correct’

Doyle was also shown a document that was sent to Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) with the letterhead 'Fiona McAleenan Solicitors'. Doyle agreed that she had signed the letter in McAleenan's name.

She said Lynn “presented” her with the letterhead. “I wasn't too happy to be honest, because I knew it wasn't correct,” she said. “I sent it on the instruction of Mr Lynn.”

Doyle told the trial that she was “struggling” at the time. She said that her husband's business collapsed in 2006 and “there was pressure there”.

The couple had a mortgage on their family home in Maynooth, and Doyle said that they had remortgaged a property they owned in Cabra to put money into the business. They then took out another loan of €600,000 to pay their mortgages.

Doyle agreed with prosecution counsel that she knew that what she was doing in relation to signing the documents was wrong. When asked again why she did it, she said that she had already explained the pressure she was under. “I was running on empty,” she said. “I was under huge pressure, and I signed them.”

Firm culture

Cross-examining Doyle, Paul Comiskey O'Keeffe BL, defending, said Lynn “does not accept he instructed you to put Fiona McAleenan's signature on any document”. Doyle disagreed.

He put it to Doyle that “there was a culture in the firm where people were signing each other's names on documents”. Doyle said that she couldn't recall.

Comiskey O'Keeffe put it to Doyle that she said that the reason she signed the documents was because of the pressure, and that she also “threw in something about being afraid of Mr Lynn”.

Defence counsel noted that Doyle had also said that she believed she had McAleenan's permission to sign her signature.

“So the pressure, the horrendous pressure, as you said repeatedly, can't have been the reason you signed it,” Comiskey O'Keeffe said, later adding: “They can't both be true.” Doyle did not accept this.

She agreed that she “never” mentioned to McAleenan that she was signing her signature.

‘Good salary’

Doyle agreed that three of her family members worked for Lynn, and that he sang at her wedding. She said that she earned a “good salary” but disputed the defence's submission that it was €95,000 per annum, including bonus.

She said that as well as the homes in Maynooth and Cabra at that time, she also had a property in Kilcock.

Doyle agreed with defence counsel that she paid a deposit on an apartment in Portugal and a deposit on a further two apartments in Budapest, but that she pulled out of the sales and received the deposits back.

She denied that she had a 4x4 Jeep that she drove at weekends, saying that they had a family carrier.

Compensation fund

Doyle said that, after the High Court froze Lynn's assets, she had €600,000 in loan monies in the company's client account. She agreed that she was entitled to this money and that she had received money from the Law Society’s compensation fund, but said that she couldn't recall the figure.

She said that she did not recall making a claim from the Solicitors’ Mutual Defence Fund, as she said in a statement to gardaí, saying that she probably meant the compensation fund. “My husband dealt with all that. I was unwell at the time,” she told the court.

The court heard that Irish Life and Permanent took a civil case against Doyle and McAleenan, during which McAleenan alleged that Doyle was “part and parcel of the fraud perpetuated by Mr Lynn”, Comiskey O'Keeffe said.

“I can't recall,” Doyle replied. She agreed that she does not accept those allegations.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and the jury.

Isabel Hayes
Isabel Hayes
Isabel Hayes is a court reporter with CCC Nuacht Teoranta