Witness in ‘pyramid scheme’ trial said accused was squandering money

Witness in ‘pyramid scheme’ trial said accused was squandering money

A witness in the trial of a man accused of setting up a “pyramid scheme” has said the accused was squandering the money invested by “staying in hotels and living the good life”.

Eamon Shield (45) is alleged to have stolen €178,000 from 12 people by telling them he could “flip” cars repossessed by the banks at a significant mark up.

Shane Costelloe SC, prosecuting, has told a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that this was a fabrication and there was no business.

Mr Shield of Weston Meadows, Weston Park, Lucan, Co Dublin has pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of theft and another 12 counts of making a gain by deception between June 2011 and February 2012.

On day two of the trial, retired banker Jake Brennan gave evidence that in October 2011 he read an advert in a national newspaper which suggested a 100% profit could be made on an investment. He said he was sceptical but rang the number anyway and spoke to a man who gave the name Edward Shiel.

He said this man explained that he was purchasing repossessed cars from banks and reselling them.

Mr Brennan said that he had previously worked in the repossessions section of a bank and believed the business plan was reasonable.

“It was a great business idea if it was run correctly,” he said, adding that he believed it could have turned a profit. He agreed to invest €20,000 and signed a contract which he said guaranteed him a 100% return on his investment after 60 days.

He said over the course of the months following that he was given a number of cash payments totalling €8,800 by June 2012. He said he telephoned the accused constantly and drove down to the hotel he was supposed to be staying in but he “had no luck” meeting him.

“I felt I’d been scammed at that stage, he was just dragging along with very small payments,” Mr Brennan said, adding that he complained constantly but the accused always had an excuse.

He said he didn't go to gardai because he didn't think there was any sense if Mr Shields had no money. “He was squandering it all staying in hotels and living the good life,” he testified.

The trial also heard evidence of a garda search on October 22, 2012 at an apartment at the Ryder Cup Apartments, the K Club, Straffan, Co Kildare. The apartment was empty at the time and gardai forced entry.

During the search they found a briefcase with 12 documents entitled “partnership agreements”.

Detective Garda Maria Flynn said that she contacted the 12 people named on these documents.

The trial continues tomorrow before Judge Patricia Ryan and the jury and is expected to run for two weeks.