Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Father Conleth Byrne: Admits to defrauding diocese


A former Loughinisland parish priest has admitted defrauding the diocese of up to £145,000 -- to give to a woman in "dire need".

Details of the extraordinary case involving 78 year-old Father Conleth Byrne, who also gave the woman thousands of pounds of his own money, were revealed following his last-minute guilty plea at Downpatrick Crown Court on Tuesday afternoon as his trial was about to begin.

Father Byrne, now retired to Bethlehem Abbey, Portglenone, had previously denied the charge of fraud by abuse of position, which involved giving 50 year-old Marie Hanna, from the Ballycastle area, up to £145,617 between January 2008 and October 2009.

The exact amount is to be confirmed at sentencing next month.
In an agreed statement of facts between the prosecution and defence, prosecuting lawyer Laura Ives said the payments were made in cash, obtained mostly through the cashing of cheques from the parish account, and followed a period where Father Byrne gave the woman around £45,000 of his own money.

NORTHERN IRELAND

UTV

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