Frenchman sentenced to three years jail over €53,000 'conned' from businesses

 

A FRENCHMAN who ran up unpaid bills in Dublin worth €53,000 for hired staff and a hotel’s services has received a three-year sentence.

Christian Charron (46) used the name “Frank Le Furve”, a character in a politically themed book he has claimed to have written, to rent two offices on Dublin’s Harcourt Road, hire three staff from a recruitment agency, be chauffeur-driven to Belfast, and stay at the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen’s Green.

Charron has nine previous Irish convictions for similar offences, and he received a three-year sentence in absentia in France for a crime or crimes which his defence counsel described to Judge Desmond Hogan as “hard to understand”.

Remy Farrell, defending, said the offence in France included “not registering workers and things like that” and was revealed by Det Garda Joanne McCormack to have left a €409,000 debt.

Mr Farrell told Judge Hogan his client had sent his defence for those matters to a French magistrate in song form, as he had been making use of a recording studio in prison while on remand for the Irish offences.

Judge Hogan said he did not wish to hear further details of this unless counsel proposed to sing the composition for the court. Mr Farrell declined.

Charron, who has been remanded in custody since his arrest at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four counts of obtaining goods and services by deception to make a gain for himself.

These included food, beverages, cash and accommodation at the Fitzwilliam Hotel on April 16th; office space and stationery from Regus House on Harcourt Road between April 15th and 24th; the hiring of staff through Brightwater Recruitment, Merrion Square, between April 20th and May 6th; and a chauffeur service from Devine’s Chauffeur Service, Cherryorchard Business Park, on April 4th, all in 2010.

Det McCormack told Kerida Naidoo, prosecuting, that she went to the Fitzwilliam Hotel on receiving a complaint about a guest with an unpaid €12,500 bill. She met the manager and Charron, who was posing as “Frank le Furve”.

She said she arrested Charron when he could not provide any identification, except a passport number on a slip of paper, or any details about his company “Sandprints Management SA”.

Gardaí later discovered the passport number matched a passport stolen in 2009.

Det McCormack said Charron was taken to hospital complaining of heart problems after his arrest and was kept as an inpatient under Garda supervision for three weeks before being released for interview.

Det McCormack told Mr Naidoo that Charron had rented two furnished offices from Regus House on Harcourt Road at €1,600 per month and made an agreement to be invoiced for €15,000 of stationery.

He was evicted from the offices when the bills remained unpaid and initially claimed to gardaí that the eviction had been done illegally. He left Brightwater Recruitment €16,500 out of pocket for the wages of three staff, and Devine’s Chauffeur Service with an unpaid bill of €855.

Mr Farrell submitted to Judge Hogan that his client had been on remand in Ireland awaiting sentence for 13 months and had been making good use of his time in the recording studio and in a job as a cleaner.

He said his client had a “certain view of the world which has led to difficulties”.

He asked the judge to take into consideration that the crimes in this case were not at the top end of the scale and that Charron had entered a guilty plea.

Judge Hogan said this case was “vastly different from when people are honest and have fallen on bad times and cannot pay their debts”.

He said businesses were “conned” in this matter and noted Charron had a propensity to reoffend.

He imposed a three-year sentence, backdated to when Charron entered custody in June last year, and suspended the final 18 months for three years.