We track down the conman who hurling legend Davy Fitzgerald says forged his name on six or seven mortgages
The Sunday World this week tracked down disgraced former banker Kevin Jarlath Mitchell to his new base in north London – where the convicted thief now runs a health and safety firm.
On Tuesday, Ireland’s Fittest Family mentor Fitzgerald alleged that Mitchell had defrauded him by forging his signature on mortgages for ‘six or seven properties’ in Portugal.
And the Clare hurling legend also claimed that €45,000 he had on deposit in ACC, where Mitchell was his banking “relationship manager” is currently unaccounted for.
Seventy-two hours after the allegations were made in the High Court, we tracked the former high-flying money man to a north London flat, where he now lives above a creche.
After knocking on the front door, a female came down and asked why our reporter wanted to speak with the 63-year-old.
She then said she did not believe Mitchell would speak with our reporter in person.
“He hasn’t had very good experiences with journalists,” she said.
Asked if Mitchell was aware of the allegations that had been made in court against him, she responded: “He is aware of it … yeah. If you leave your details then he (Kevin) can contact his lawyer who is dealing with, how to deal with this. These allegations are not funny at all.”
When our reporter gave the woman his contact details, she asked him to wait outside to allow her to speak with Mitchell again.
The woman – who declined to outline the nature of her relationship with Mitchell – then went back inside to see if the former banker would come down and speak with our reporter for himself.
On returning, she said Mitchell was not going to speak with us.
“He said everything that was printed against him is not true. He will fight it – but not, like this, through a tit-for-tat in the newspapers.”
A short time later, we photographed Mitchell as he left the property and drove away.
Mitchell, who served a two-year sentence in Ireland for stealing €450,000 of ACC client funds, moved to the UK after his release from prison here in 2016.
Company documents obtained by this newspaper show that after settling in London, Mitchell set up a number of new ventures.
One of the firms outlined its business as temporary employment agency activities. The second offers management consultancy services in occupational health and safety.
The allegations by Davy Fitzgerald against Mitchell date from the period when the money man was a member of staff with ACC bank.
The Waterford senior hurling manager is fighting legal proceedings in which possession is sought of a house he owns and his sister Helen lives.
Mr Fitzgerald, from Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, claimed he first discovered last July that his name had, without his knowledge, been put on “false” mortgage documentation for “six or seven” properties in Portugal.
And he alleges that it was former ACC Bank official, Mitchell, whom he had professional dealings with several years ago, who put his name on the “false mortgages and documents”.
Mr Fitzgerald claims Mitchell had been his “relationship manager” and accepts that he took out loans with ACC.
He says based on Mitchell’s advice, he bought an apartment in Portugal. That property is not the subject of the Portuguese action.
However, Mr Fitzgerald says he had no idea he was involved with the other properties until he received documents from the Portuguese courts during the summer.
He has had to instruct Portuguese lawyers to defend himself in those proceedings.
In his sworn statement, Mr Fitzgerald said that Mitchell was jailed for falsifying documents.
He claims also that €45,000 that was held on deposit in ACC is currently unaccounted for.
As a result, the court heard, Mr Fitzgerald has sued ACC Loan Management and Mitchell for damages for alleged fraud, negligence and deceit.
Mr Fitzgerald’s fraud proceedings were mentioned when the separate case against him and his sister Helen Fitzgerald came before the Deputy Master of the High Court on Tuesday.
Pepper Finance and receiver James Anderson, of Deloitte, had issued a summons against the siblings seeking possession of the property where Helen Fitzgerald lives, at Clonara, Sixmilebridge.
The details of how Mitchell previously defrauded customers of ACC, including a pensioner and two close friends, to pay off debts arising from unsuccessful investments in the property market were revealed during his trial in 2013.
Mitchell pleaded guilty to 10 sample counts of charges relating to stealing money from clients while he was a senior official at ACC Bank in Kilrush, Co Clare.
These included charges of theft, obtaining cash and a cheque under false pretences and falsifying a DIRT compliance certificate on dates between 1993 and 2012.
The court heard that the father-of-five stole €197,000 from pensioner John Patrick Ryan after leading the man to believe that he had been depositing his cash in a high-interest account.
Mitchell also stole €250,000 from friends and customers, Patrick and Susan Flanagan.
The court heard that ACC bank fully reimbursed Mr Ryan and the Flanagans, while Mitchell surrendered effectively his entire pension fund, valued at €600,000, by way of recompense to the bank.
The fraudster was originally sentenced to four years in prison for his crimes but this was later reduced to two years by the court of appeal.