Northern Ireland news

Man (34) admits posing as barrister to defraud vulnerable woman

A 34-year-old man has been warned he faces the prospect of jail after admitting posing as a barrister to defraud a vulnerable woman

A Co Down man who admitted posing as a barrister to defraud a vulnerable woman has been remanded in custody.

Christopher McDonnell was warned he faces the prospect of a custodial sentence after pleading guilty to eight offences committed last March.

The 34-year old, from Limewood in Banbridge, appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he admitted four counts of fraud by false representation, two counts of theft and two forgery charges.

The charges included dishonestly making a false representation 'namely that he was a qualified barrister' to make a gain for himself or cause a loss to a woman, stealing money from the same woman, and claiming a document purporting to be a bank transfer represented money that the woman owed him for legal fees he paid on her behalf.

He also admitted forging a letter addressed to her from a recognised law firm as well as forging a court document which notified a change of solicitor.

McDonnell denied a further two charges of fraud by false representation, including telling the woman he needed £590 'to use as an underhand payment to a judge', and giving her payment instructions which he said were to 'discharge legal fees'.

A Crown lawyer told Judge Patricia Smyth that a decision on whether or not to proceed with these charges will be made by the PPS.

The court heard that while seven of the charges relate to one woman, McDonnell - described in court as a trainee project manager - also admitted posing as a barrister with the intention of gaining for himself or causing a loss to a second woman.

Revealing the amount involved is around £15,000, the lawyer said the women were "reasonably vulnerable victims because of their personal circumstances".

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news