‘Psychic swindler' | 

Medium who stole €320,000 from elderly couple has €2.7m debt written off in High Court

Tom Colton's debts of €4.3m will be reduced by €2.7m in return for a contribution of just €5,100

Tom Colton (picture by Lorraine Teevan)

Shane Phelan

A medium and former accountant who stole more than €320,000 from an elderly couple has had €2.7m in debt written off by the High Court.

Tom Colton (46), dubbed “the psychic swindler” in news reports after his conviction in 2015, will be able to keep his €640,000 family home under the terms of a personal insolvency arrangement (PIA).

Colton’s crime, which a judge described as “coldly calculated”, was not an obstacle to him getting approval from his creditors for the deal.

Under the PIA, which was approved by the High Court earlier this week, Colton’s debts of €4.3m will be reduced by €2.7m in return for a contribution to unsecured creditors of just €5,100.

An interlocking arrangement was also approved for his wife, Linda.

Despite the huge write-off, creditors will still get a higher return than if Colton, of Celbridge, Co Kildare, were to be made bankrupt.

Colton claims to be a medium who can communicate with the dead.

He is registered with the Department of Social Protection as a solemniser of marriages with the Spiritualist Union of Ireland. He and his wife work at a business offering “spiritual ceremonies”.

Colton pledged to repay Co Monaghan couple Hugh and Mary McNally when he was convicted seven years ago.

He declined to comment on the PIA when contacted by the Irish Independent , other than to say it did not involve the writing off of his debt to the McNallys.

“I don’t want to make any comment in relation to it other than that matters with the McNallys have been resolved,” he said.

Colton previously ran a limousine business and was also involved in a failed $600m property development on the Caribbean island of St Lucia in the mid-2000s.

He was working as an accountant when he stole €322,070 from the McNallys on July 15, 2005. They had been seeking to make a tax settlement.

During a trial in 2015, Dublin Circuit Court heard that after Mr McNally showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Colton dealt with Mrs McNally, who had never been part of the day-to-day running of their business.

She agreed to his request for a blank signed cheque, which Colton then made out for more than €400,000 and lodged to a bank account he controlled.

Only €78,000 of the cash ended up being paid to the Revenue Commissioners, with the remainder being transferred to a company in the US.

The theft came to light when Mrs McNally realised in 2009 how little had been paid in tax.

One of her sons challenged Colton, who admitted filling out the blank cheque and using the funds for his own purposes. He pleaded guilty to a single count of theft.

The court heard Colton claimed to have been “under enormous pressure” as the economy crashed, that he had received “menacing” repayment demands and feared for the safety of his family.

Judge Michael O’Shea described Colton’s crime as “extraordinarily dishonest and fraudulent” and imposed a four-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended.

Mrs McNally brought a civil case against the firm where Colton worked and was awarded €240,000, paid out by an insurance company. But she was still at a loss of €83,000. Colton pledged to repay both Mrs McNally and the insurers.

Under Colton’s PIA, a €695,000 debt secured against his family home will be reduced to €640,000, with the mortgage being restructured and extended to 22 years.

A buy-to-let property in Portugal, on which €287,000 is owed, is to be sold for €250,000, with remaining debt being largely written off.

A second buy-to-let property, in Clonsilla, Dublin – worth €460,000 – will also be sold.

This property was used as security for three loans, which have a combined unpaid balance of €2.5m. The bulk of this debt will be written off under the PIA.

Colton declined to say how his debts arose.

“I just want to be left alone and to get on with my life at this stage,” he said. “What happened, happened in the past, and I just want to move on.”

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