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GAA star ‘con man’ at centre of probe into alleged cancer fraud sued twice

The Sunday World has learned the player has had claims lodged against him by a well-known Dublin solicitor and an IT company

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Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

A former GAA star at the centre of a probe into an alleged cancer fraud has been sued twice in the civil courts over the past decade.

The Sunday Worldhas learned the player has had claims lodged against him by a well-known Dublin solicitor and an IT company.

Sources say the player, who does not drink or smoke, is also not known to have gambled and there is uncertainty over how the money obtained in the alleged fraud was spent.

On Wednesday, the player – who committed himself to the care of a mental health facility after details of the allegations against him became known – was arrested under Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Offences Act.

He was questioned for a number of hours during a period of detention lasting until 10 am on Thursday morning.

In a statement, police said of the arrest: “Gardai in the eastern region have arrested a male in relation to an ongoing investigation into an alleged fraud,” a spokesperson said.

“An Garda Síochána does not comment on named persons.”

It’s understood as part of the probe into the former player’s conduct, officers have spoken with his bank and accessed his financial records.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) is currently carrying out a investigation after a number of complaints were made alleging he had approached a number of people seeking donations for cancer treatment in the US.

It’s alleged he claimed to numerous individuals that he was suffering from a rare bone marrow cancer and needed to receive urgent care abroad in the US.

However, those who donated now fear they were deceived and defrauded.

Key to the investigation will be determining whether the ex-player falsely claimed he had cancer to those from whom he sought money, and if the monies obtained were spent for purposes other than those outlined by the player.

As well as facing two legal cases in the courts, the player has suffered serious financial difficulties in recent years.

The Sunday World revealed last week how judgment for debts of in excess of €80,000 had been registered against the player.

These included a significant judgment obtained against the player by an individual who had loaned him in excess of €100,000 and further judgments of in excess of €30,000 to Revenue.

Despite claims he had obtained loans totalling several hundred thousand euro from concerned third parties over a number of years, sources said the former star appeared to have few, if any, trappings of wealth when the property where he was staying was searched last December.

“He is in poor circumstances,” the source said.

“He is a man without access to funds and, at best, is scraping by.”

In addition to his alleged approaches to a number of high-profile businessmen, including Denis O’Brien, it’s claimed the player also approached prominent members of the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), which represents inter-county players, for financial help.

The GPA has a benevolent fund to support current and past players who are experiencing financial difficulties.

The GPA has declined to say whether the former player received money directly from this fund.

Concerns for the player’s life were expressed to the Sunday World last week by a family member – who said he had checked into a mental health facility following a ‘suicide attempt’.

The family member told this newspaper: “We are trying to prevent a suicide — the facts are not being presented correctly.

“He attempted suicide and is in hospital under the care of the mental health professionals.”

Asked if there was any statement the player or the family would like to make, the family member said: “To be honest, giving statements and worrying about all of this now is not our priority.”

The family member declined to comment, in the wake of the ex-player’s arrest when contacted this week.

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