A CONVICTED rapist once arrested for stalking female TDs outside the Dail is back behind bars after stealing €4,400 from a girlfriend.
Serial criminal John Cronin (49) was once dubbed ‘one of the most dangerous sexual predators’ in Ireland and the UK.
Buirmingham Crown Court heard he befriended his latest victim after flashing her a fake business card and claiming he was a manager at Allied Irish Bank.
He even offered to buy her a house before pocketing a wad of cash she withdrew to buy a car.
But the victim was oblivious to the fact Cronin, now of Guernsey Drive in Smith’s Wood, Solihull was in fact a notorious crook who has wreaked havoc in both Ireland and the UK over the past number of decades.
In 1992 he was jailed for life for sexually assaulting a Conservative party activist in Scotland whilst posing as a priest but served just four years after an appeal.
Then, in 1996 Cronin tried to break into the Dail by posing as a priest and he was arrested in Ireland for stalking women TDs outside Leinster House.
He had travelled to Dublin and tried to organise meetings with three TDs Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, Senator Madeleine Taylor and Eric Byrne.
He was subsequently sentenced to 12 months in prison at Navan District Court after it was discovered he stole €1,180 from the parish priest’s house in Mohill, Co Leitrim.
Since then Cronin has also been convicted of multiple counts of fraud and theft.
Birmingham Crown Court heard this week he was ‘terrified’ at the prospect of returning to prison but after admitting his latest charge of theft he was jailed for 28 months.
Prosecutor Sally Cairns said: “The defendant was in a short relationship with the victim. They met in a pub in Coventry. He gave her a business card.
“She wasn’t overly interested but over the next few days they exchanged texts messages and by the end of July they met again. They then started a relationship.
“The defendant told her he was a bank manager at Allied Irish.
“In August they went to look at houses and he told her he would buy a house for her and she could use her savings to invest in other things.
“She decided to buy a car.
“The defendant told her his friend in Birmingham had two cars for sale.
“He told her to withdraw the money in cash to buy the car and went with her to the bank where she withdrew £4,000.
“On August 26 they went to Birmingham together to look at a car. The defendant told her he would look after the cash then he put her £4,000 in his pocket.
“They travelled to Birmingham and went to a pub in the city centre. Whilst there the defendant told her to stay while he went to get something from his office.
“Ten minutes later she received a call from him saying he was on his way back, but he never returned to her.”
Ms Cairns told the court the victim became increasingly worried that ‘harm had come to the defendant’ and flagged down a police officer.
Enquiries ultimately led to Cronin being arrested in November last year.
Warren Ridley, defending, conceded his client had a ‘horrendous record’ but in more recent times had trod the ‘path of rehabilitation’ with support from the probation service.
He explained at the time of this latest offence Cronin was having difficulties with his current partner and dealing with his mother’s deteriorating health.
The barrister also argued that when he returned to Birmingham former criminal associates sought him out and ‘put pressure on him’ for money.
Calling for a suspended sentence Mr Ridley said Cronin was effectively a carer for his current partner, was studying a college course and ‘for the first time has a prospect of some paid work’.
He added: “He is absolutely terrified of the prospect of going back to custody. He feels he has let himself down and his family. He does feel remorse for the victim.”
But Judge Peter Carr, passing sentence on Friday, October 23, stated ‘only immediate custody is the appropriate sentence’.
He said: “You are what a man in the street would describe as a conman, you have been a conman for many years.
“You began a relationship with her and persuaded her to part with £4,000 she believed was for a car she was hoping to buy. Of course there wasn’t a car, there never was and you disappeared with her money.
“I have read a victim impact statement which quite clearly outlines the distress this has caused her.
“She had sold her home and had funds available to buy a car, now she feels she is no longer independent when dealing with finances.”
Cronin was jailed for a total of 28 months and also ordered to pay £2,000 in compensation to the victim.