Cork couple avoid jail after £1.1m fraud


A Cork couple in their 60s who defrauded investors of more than £1 million were each given eight-year suspended sentences at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.

James Kennedy (69) and his wife, Ellen (61), operated an investment and accounting company in Cobh and defrauded customers of amounts ranging from £2,000 to £80,000.

The couple operated a 10-year fraud in which investors were told their money would be placed in high-yielding accounts.

The Kennedys, who now live in Bristol, tricked clients into believing they would make big gains by investing with them.

The Garda Fraud Squad moved in last year and found that the couple had defrauded clients of their accountancy and investment firm of £1.1 million.

Only £140,000 in compensation is available to clients of the Kennedys after the sale of their assets.

Twelve clients lost money in the scheme, including Mrs Peggy Keevers, from Ardmore, Co Waterford, who invested £60,000 with the couple.

Speaking outside the court, Mrs Keevers said she was very dissatisfied with the outcome of the case. "I am not pleased with this. The court said it was lenient on account of their age, but my husband, John, is older than Mr Kennedy."

Sentencing the couple yesterday, Judge A.G. Murphy said that no purpose other than revenge would be served by jailing the Kennedys.

The judge said he was taking the couple's age and poor health into consideration. "Their actions caused much damage to a large number of people who will not get their money back", he said.

"One answer to this is to impose a long custodial sentence, but because of their age such a sentence would not be beneficial."