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dodgy deals Dodgy land dealer faces six years in prison after failing to pay back €140k

Devious conman Laurence Murphy duped investors into giving him money for the purpose of purchasing property, or putting down deposits.

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Laurence Murphy pretended he worked for Savills.

Laurence Murphy pretended he worked for Savills.

Our man Patrick O’Connell with Murphy.

Our man Patrick O’Connell with Murphy.

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Laurence Murphy pretended he worked for Savills.

Meet the dodgy land dealer facing six-and-a-half years in prison - after he failed to pay €140,000 compensation to investors he'd ripped off in a series of fake land deals.

Devious conman Laurence Murphy legally registered a company in the name of 'Savills Auctioneering' in 2016 before falsely holding himself out as a property consultant working for prestigious Dublin-based company Savills Auctioneers.

He then duped investors into giving him money for the purpose of purchasing property, or putting down deposits.

Instead, the money went straight into his own account in AIB and was never returned to the injured parties and no property was ever bought.

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Our man Patrick O’Connell with Murphy.

Our man Patrick O’Connell with Murphy.

Our man Patrick O’Connell with Murphy.

In November 2019, Murphy was given a six-and-a-half year jail term for his crimes, suspended on condition he pay €140,000 compensation to two of his victims.

But the 39-year-old was back in court last week, after State solicitor Sandra Mahon re-entered the matter over his failure to make good on the compensation order.

Approached by the Sunday World on Thursday afternoon, Murphy insisted he will get the money to pay the compensation - before blaming Covid-19 for his failure to do so until now.

"There is a share-holding I am seeking to release the equity on," he said.

Asked why he hadn't paid up until now, he answered: "The pandemic over the last year had serious interference on that. It was my absolute intention and still is."

Asked whether it was his intention to steal the money belonging to his investors when he got them to invest, Murphy responded: "No, absolutely not.

"There was a land deal ongoing at the time that was to come to fruition. A secondary party I was dealing with actually bought that piece of land after.

"But it was never the intention to just leave those men like that."

Asked what happened to the money, Murphy answered: "It was utilised on different transactions."

Asked whether this meant he'd spent the money on himself, Murphy said: "No, no, not at all."

Murphy has come up with €20,000 compensation, Tullamore Circuit Court heard on Thursday.

Defence counsel Ken Fogarty, SC, told Judge Keenan Johnson that a bank draft for €20,000 was being lodged with his solicitor.

Mr Fogarty also said Murphy had plans to release a 0.05 per cent equity investment in a company which could be realised on May 31 next and that would be added to the compensation.

Mr Fogarty suggested an adjournment for a week to March 25 for the bank draft to clear and a further adjournment to the Circuit Court sittings in June for the other monies.

Judge Johnson said the existence of that investment had "come out of blue" and there was no mention of it before.

He ordered that the €20,000 be paid to the man who had lost over €100,000 and he would then grant "one final adjournment" of the matter.

Judge Johnson said the only reason he was extending latitude to Murphy was in ease of the victims.

He adjourned the matter to March 25.

When Murphy was previously in court on March 11 last, prosecution counsel Kevin White, BL, explained that the conviction arose when Murphy obtained money while he was holding himself out as a property consultant and a man who was working for Savills Auctioneers.

That turned out not to be the case and the money which was obtained for the purpose of purchasing property, or putting down deposits, was never used for that purpose.

Instead, it was put into Murphy's own account in AIB and never returned to the injured parties and no property was ever bought.

Mr Murphy entered a guilty plea in November 2018 and sentencing was then adjourned on a number of occasions for proposals from the accused to raise compensation.

The first proposal was that a loan secured against his mother's home be obtained and subsequently Murphy proposed to sell a site at the rear of the family home, but that fell through because the local authority would not grant planning permission for development there.

Murphy told the court that he had started a hospitality business in December 2019 but it was totally wiped out last March and he was now involved with a technology company.

He said he also had a percentage shareholding which he could have released by the end of May and which would realise €187,000.

Judge Johnson told Murphy, a father of one teenage child, that he deserved to be in jail because what he had done was outrageous, fraudulently producing receipts from Savills and stealing money from vulnerable people who were led up the garden path.

A previous sentencing hearing had been told Murphy had paid €2,700 in compensation for the offences and he was said to have a dissociative personality disorder.

He had worked in auctioneering all his life.

He had opened a bank account in the name of Savills and while acting as an agent for that firm, approached a developer saying he was selling land in Tullamore and in Duleek, Co Meath.

Cheques were paid over to Mr Murphy, believing he was paying Savills and the man making the payment received a receipt with a Savills logo and another with a forged signature.

When the man rang Savills he was told Mr Murphy did not work for them and was never employed by them.

Mr Murphy also received deposits from a number of people, including a pregnant woman, for rental properties which did not exist.

The full amount stolen by Mr Murphy was up to €250,000.

One victim asked how Mr Murphy could walk the streets in his expensive suit and overcoat, and Judge Johnson said Murphy had a cavalier attitude to the court and had funded a lavish lifestyle with his victims' money.


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