Civil engineer tells fraud trial he trusted Clare councillor


A CIVIL engineer told a fraud trial involving Shannon Development that he trusted a Clare county councillor who asked him to include extra payments on a contract certificate for work he knew nothing about.

Mr Patrick Coleman yesterday said Mr Enda Mulkere, who was a senior executive in SFADCo, told him that McCarthy Brothers and Company (Ennis) Ltd had carried out work for him on kerbs, footpaths and gullies in Shannon town.

McCarthy's had completed a contract for the refurbishing of Traderree Court flats for SFADCo, for which Mr Coleman "was the supervising civil engineer on behalf of SFADCo. The finale certificate of payment, including release of the normal 10 per cent retention money, was due for issue in December 1991.

Mr Mulkere asked him to add an extra £14,500 to this certificate for what he described as the extra kerbs, footpaths and gullies work so that McCarthy's could be paid for it. Mr Coleman said he had no knowledge of this work but agreed to include it because he trusted the defendant.

He wrote: "plus ancillary works instructed by Enda Mulkere" on the certificate and qualified the line "revised final account" with the note "refer letter sent December 10th, 1991". This letter to Mr Mulkere referred to discussions between them concerning Traderree flats and the extra works.

Replying to Mr Paul McDermott, prosecuting, Mr Coleman said he did this to make it clear to SFADCo what the total was for. The extra works had no relationship to the Traderree contract.

Mr Mulkere (46), of Carrownacloughy, Crusheen, has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges of committing £400,000 fraud by false pretences from October 1991 to June 1992. The charges allege he obtained sums, or caused sums or attempted to cause sums to be paid to contractors, by falsely pretending the money was due to them from SFADCo for work done or services lawfully rendered.

Mr Coleman said the day after he issued the final certificate for the Traderree job and the letter, Mr Mulkere telephoned him and asked him to make some changes. He agreed with Mr Mulkere to amend "instructed" to "directed" and to remove the qualification "ancillary works", and sent him a revised certificate and letter.

Mr Mulkere called to his office in June 1992 and asked for a certificate for £14,500 for the extra works he said McCarthy's had carried out on his behalf. The figure, "£14,500" seemed all important to Mr Mulkere, and the details of the certificate were calculated "backwards" to arrive at it.

Mr Coleman said it was "a hurried affair". Mr Mulkere said payment to McCarthy's was long overdue and he had to take the certificate with him. Witness did not recollect having already certified this work and issued the certificate. Some days later, SFADCo phoned him about it.

Cross-examined by Mr Peter Charleton SC, defending, Mr Coleman denied he issued the certificate because, as counsel suggested, "something else was going on, some scheme of your own".

Mr Charleton alleged the "core of the matter" was that several flats "had gone wrong" in the Traderree Court refurbishment and the extra money was needed to deal with this.

Mr Charleton claimed these were matters which "reflected" on Mr Coleman and his company and that the June 1992 certificate was issued "due to some private arrangement unknown to Enda Mulkere".

Mr Coleman denied these allegations and a further defence claim that the reason he wrote the letters to Mr Mulkere on December 10th and December 11th, 1991, noting these extra payments was "to lay a paper trail" to Mr Mulkere.

He agreed he had not contacted the quantity surveyor, Mr Tom McNamara, about the extra payments. He said he knew for certain Mr McNamara knew nothing whatever about these extra works. He included the payments on the instructions of Mr Mulkere.

"I just thought Mr Mulkere didn't have his allocations right and for that reason he was seeking my assistance, and that if he had his allocations right he would not have asked me to put in this sum in McCarthy's certificate," said Mr Coleman.

"What I did was wrong. I should not have sent it out," he added.

The hearing continues.