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Struck-off solicitors jailed for elaborate fraud
Lyndsey Clarke (37) and Keith Flynn (46)

23 Feb 2021 / ireland Print

Struck-off solicitors jailed for elaborate fraud

A married couple of former solicitors, who ceased practice in November 2016, have been jailed for two and four years respectively. 

The pair were convicted of defrauding financial institutions of up to €400,000.

The couple were struck off as solicitors in 2018 for other matters, separate to the garda fraud probe.

'Chaotic'

They had not performed their duties correctly and their practice was described as “chaotic”. 

The pair ceased to practise in November 2016.

When the married couple first appeared before Cork District Court in connection with the charges they were granted free legal aid. 

The court heard at the time that Flynn had been working as a chef, while Clarke was on a back-to-work scheme.

Keith Flynn (46) and Lyndsey Clarke (37) of Blarney Street in Cork, were accused of having over 60 false identities.

They also disguised themselves and used the PPS numbers of homeless people for fraudulent purposes.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin handed down a four-year sentence to Flynn and said he was taking into account his guilty plea and significant co-operation with the investigation into the well-organised fraud. 

Clarke was sentenced to two years at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud at a hearing last October.

Elaborate scheme

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin described the fraud as an elaborate and criminally-purposed scheme. 

"It was elaborately thought-out and both defendants were completely culpable," he said.

Monies totalling €394,804 had been fraudulently obtained from several financial institutions over an 18-month period.

Detective Garda Alan McCarthy of the Economic Crime Investigation Unit had told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that the couple applied for loans using fake driving licences obtained online, fake bank statements and fake payslips. 

They also used fake utility bills from Virgin Media, Airtricity and Electric Ireland to defraud financial institutions.

Fake accounts

They also created fake accounts with An Post, Permanent TSB and KBC, though no loans were drawn down.

In the event of a trial, Clarke was facing 388 charges and Flynn 389 charges.

A cash sum of €100,685 stored in a safe is to be returned to the financial institutions on an equitable basis, after the Bank of Ireland receives €27,671, on the grounds that Bank of Ireland discovered the fraud. 

"Without their attention to detail, it is unknown how long this scheme would have gone on for, given there was some somnolence on the part of other institutions," the judge said.

 

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland