Conman Patrick Maher, who held the position of joint secretary in one of fraudster Catriona Carey’s property companies from December 2019, targeted Paul Moorhouse (70) and his daughter Danielle in 2018 as the family were mired in a dispute with a vulture fund.
Now, in their first interview, Paul and Danielle tell how Maher swooped into their lives uninvited, portraying himself as a former county sheriff who knew ‘all the lads in the vulture funds’ and could get their house back for them.
“He arrived up in the yard one day in an BMW X5,” Paul told the Sunday Worldthis week.
“He was dressed up like a professional. And you’d think he was after bathing in aftershave, there was that strong of a smell off him.”
Paul said Maher had been tipped off about the family’s dispute with the vulture fund.
“He was already talking when he got out of the car,” Paul recalled.
“He introduced himself as an ex-County Sheriff and he said he knew all the lads in the vulture funds. All the top boys! And he said he’d be able to get us a re-mortgage on the house at a low rate.”
Despite the family’s initial distrust, both Paul and Danielle said Maher was so smooth-talking he managed to push past their concerns.
Paul continued: “I remember Danielle said to him: ‘I hope you’re not here to con us.’ And he (Maher) pulled up the sleeve and said: ‘Look at that watch … that’s 30 or 40 grand right there. Why would I want to con anyone?
Paul and Danielle said Maher was offering them hope when they were at their most desperate — and, somewhat reluctantly, they took up his offer.
“When he arrived, sounding like he knew what he was talking about, we were happy … happy that something might happen,” said Danielle.
“It was the first time in a long time we had been offered light at the end of the tunnel.”
Asked how soon Maher began talking about money and how much his help was going to cost the Moorhouses, Paul replied: “Straight away. It was straight away. He said there would be paperwork and that he would have to get a payment up front for administration.
“He said he was looking for as much as we could give him but he would settle for €2,500 that day. I was a bit apprehensive with that but after we’d discussed it, I didn’t go against it.
“We were stupid really not to question it … but he was a very smooth talker and he was convincing. He’s so good that if he was legit he would have made a brilliant salesman.”
Asked how Maher had convinced them he could get the deeds to house back when the mortgage on it had already been sold to a vulture fund, Paul answered: “He said he knew all the lads that were involved and that he would buy back the house if he had to and sell it back to us.
“It’s exactly what Catriona Carey was accused of doing to people on Prime Time. The very same thing … just on a much smaller scale.”
Still somewhat distrustful, Danielle offered to meet Maher outside the AIB bank in Enniscorthy to hand over the €2,500, because she knew the bank’s CCTV cameras covered the location.
Maher refused and instead insisted on meeting Danielle outside a local graveyard — which was not covered by CCTV.
Days after getting the first instalment of cash, Maher returned to the Moorhouses, this time advising them to move out of their own home into the disputed property.
“I told him myself and the wife would be too old to get insurance or another mortgage but he said not to worry he’d sort that,” said Paul.
“And, the next day he arrived up with this blonde woman and left her sitting in the car. He said she was a nurse and said she would certify us as being fit for the paperwork.
“I said no but he kept coming back talking more and more bullsh*t.
Paul said it was only about four or five days after the first payment that Maher returned, saying he needed more money for the nurse and for administrative fees.
“He said to me he’d take the boat instead of the money,” recalled Paul.
“I told him to do what he had to do first with the money that was given and that I wanted proof on how it was spent. But he said there was more to be done that would take a few bob more to sort. He didn’t mention an amount … he just said he’d take the boat.
“I never agreed to that.”
Despite Paul’s lack of agreement, Maher returned to the Moorhouses’ yard the next day and took the boat, a Bayline Cruiser later valued in court at €9,000. “I was here that day,” said Danielle.
“I didn’t stop him because I wasn’t sure whether dad had agreed to it.”
For months afterwards, Danielle would call Maher asking him what was happening with the property.
“I’d ring him and ask him if there was any word. But all I’d get was that he was in a meeting and couldn’t talk,” she said.
“And then I’d ring later and he wouldn’t answer. I’d ring him at night and he’d sound drunk. And this went on for about two years — right up until we went to court.”
Two months after Maher took the boat, Danielle and her father went to the gardaí.
“There was a guard called Ray Moore in Enniscorthy and he did everything he possibly could for us,” said Paul.
“And Ray went after it hammer and tongs. And Martin Brauders, the detective, was also brought in, and they tracked down the boat and got it back for us,”
In December 2020, Maher was convicted of offences relating to the fraud on the Moorhouses and given a two-year suspended sentence.
“He had to pay back the money he took from us,” said Paul.
“I think he was advised that it was that or go to jail.”
Addressing the court’s decision not to jail Maher, Danielle said: “I wasn’t happy about that.
“I was relieved he was found guilty but I wasn’t happy about that.
“He deserved to go to jail.
“He devastated my mother, my father and me.
“At the time, it was the worst thing that ever happened to us … he caused havoc here because we were all blaming each other.”
Paul continues: “At the bottom of it all, I think we felt stupid. I’m not a stupid man but he’d conned me.
“He’s a slimeball. “That’s how I’d characterise him … he’s total slimeball.
“Anyone who plays on the misery of people like he did, they’re just no good,” he adds.