The World is watching...Sunday World team confronts disgraced solicitor
Disgraced solicitor David O’Shea is back offering his services as a legal advisor – but says he has done his time and doesn’t hide his past from anyone.
This week we confronted the lawyer, who was jailed in 2012 for three-and-a-half years after he pleaded guilty to theft and fraud offences totalling more than €750,000 and now signs on at Terenure Garda station in Dublin.
O’Shea, who was released early on good behaviour and moved back into his plush family home on nearby Parkmore Drive, has been lying low ever since getting out of jail.
However, when the Sunday World tracked him down, we found him in the company of another high-profile ‘legal advisor’, namely veteran criminal Sean ‘the Fixer’ Fitzgerald.
Former Solicitor David O' Shea meets with Sean "Fixer" Fitzgerald at KCR
The pair enjoyed breakfast this week as they pored over legal documents together, but were not too forthcoming when approached by our team.
“I’m out, yeah. But I’m not back practicising,” Mr O’Shea, who was struck off the solicitors roll in 2009, told us this week.
“I’m just getting on with my life and putting things behind me. People know what happened and I advise people [in legal matters] if they ask me.
“I don’t hide my past. I’m not hoping to build any practice, I’m just trying to get on with my life. I admitted my guilt and I went to prison. I did my time and I’m moving on.”
O’Shea stole more than €450,000 from clients’ accounts to buy cars, pay off his credit card, for property transactions and to pay a horse trainer, a court heard.
He also fraudulently used another €327,000 over a six-year period and as a result the company he worked for, O’Donovan solicitors, had to close.
He joined the firm on Capel Street in Dublin in 2002 and months after becoming a partner he started to pocket funds from the estates of clients.
Until he was caught in February 2008, O’Shea had managed to rifle hundreds of thousands, including a staggering €276,000 from one account alone, belonging to the estate of the late GAA referee John Price, who had died suddenly without leaving a will.
Price’s devastated widow Christine said that her family had shown “huge trust” in O’Shea, but he had stolen 21 cheques made out to family members.
Nicola confronts Sean Fitzgerald
During his case, Judge Mary Ellen Ring said that O’Shea didn’t seem to appreciate the distress caused and the damage done. Five people lost their jobs when the company closed and two solicitors could no longer work because they could not get insurance, she said.
In court, the rogue solicitor could only offer an explanation for €80,000 of his ill-gotten loot, saying that he stole it to pay off another fraudster, Giovanni Di Stefano, who he claimed phoned him and threatened his daughters.
Di Stefano made a career out of passing himself off as a lawyer to gangland criminals, including John Gilligan, despite having no qualifications.
We snapped Fitzgerald and O’Shea together a number of times over the past few weeks as they regularly met in Terenure, often making their way into town together afterwards.
Fitzgerald was among those arrested following the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin. Following Gilligan’s release from jail, the Fixer approached criminals looking to put money into a pot for the pint-sized thug, but was warned off by cigarette smuggler Noel Duggan, who said: “He won’t be ringing me again.”
O’Shea was reluctant to discuss his friendship with Fitzgerald, who prides himself on advising a small number of elite clients on their legal rights.
“I just know him [the Fixer], that’s all,” O’Shea told us.
“Do I regret what I did? Of course I do. I said that at all stages, I admitted my guilt. All the money is paid back. I regret what I did, of course.”
Asked whether he was aware that his old foe Giovanni Di Stefano is now also doing porridge in a UK.jail after being found guilty of fraud, O’Shea claimed: “I read about that all right, but I don’t want to talk about him.”
Bogus lawyer Di Stefano got 14 years at Southwark Crown Court for ripping people off and pretending to be a qualified solicitor.