Former financial advisor who took clients’ funds jailed for five years

Victim felt ashamed and depressed after €120k of inheritance stolen, court is told

The court heard that Laura Murphy handed over all but €6,000 of a €218,000 inheritance to be invested but got less than half of the money back.

The court heard that Laura Murphy handed over all but €6,000 of a €218,000 inheritance to be invested but got less than half of the money back.

 

A former financial advisor has been jailed for five years after he pleaded guilty to a series of theft and fraud charges which involved one woman losing €120,000 that she had inherited following a family bereavement and three other victims being duped out of varying sums of money.

Mervyn Tanner (46) of Buttery Court, Market Square, Mallow, Co Cork had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and five counts of using false documents to obtain money on various dates between October 1st 2013 and March 16th 2016 at various locations in Co Cork.

On Tuesday, Det Garda James O’Reilly of the Garda Economic Crime Investigation Unit at Anglesea Street in Cork told Cork Circuit Criminal Court how gardaí had begun investigating Tanner after a number of people came forward to make complaints that he had defrauded them of money.

He told how one woman, Laura Murphy had come into an inheritance of €218,000 when her brother died and she initially planned to use the money to pay off the remainder of a €225,000 mortgage but Tanner advised her to continue paying her mortgage at the same rate and to invest the money.

She gave Tanner €212,000 on the understanding that some would be invested with companies such as New Ireland and Aviva and some would be invested privately with people who wanted to buy property but she learned that he was withdrawing the money and she ended up paying penalties.

Promises

Det Garda O’Reilly said Tanner made a number of promises to Ms Murphy that he would pay back the money and various agreements were put in place but he failed to honour the vast majority of the agreements and Ms Murphy ended up at loss of €120,000.

In her Victim Impact Statement, Ms Murphy told of how the €120,000 that Tanner stole from her would have meant so much to her family as it would have enabled them to pay off the mortgage on their home and given them some financial security.

“It is also a betrayal of my brother’s memory - he wanted this money to be beneficial to me and my children - I feel Mr Tanner saw me at my lowest and he took complete advantage of me - I can’t believe a human being would do that that - it never crossed my mind until it was too late.

“When I realised I wasn’t going to get my money back, I felt ashamed and depressed - I suffer everyday mentally since the realisation that I had been conned out of all that money ... I went through all the emotions, anger, upset, confusion ... I had everything taken from me.”

Other victims of Tanner’s deception ended up losing sums of €42,000, €35,000 and €6,200 before he was arrested by gardaí in 2018 when he made certain admissions in relation to thefts and forging documents intended to convince his victims he would repay them, said Det Garda O’Reilly.

Defence counsel Jim O’Mahony SC pleaded for leniency, pointing out that his client had no relevant previous convictions and his guilty plea to the charges was of significant benefit to the state as it would have been a complex and lengthy case if it had gone to trial.

“He got involved in arranging loans for people who would not have been otherwise able to get loans and they were at high interest rates over short periods,” said Mr O’Mahony SC, adding his client had no trappings of wealth such as enjoying expensive holidays or jewellery or driving Porsches.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said that he believed the theft and frauds were at the higher end of the scale as Tanner was guilty of a huge breach of trust towards clients who had come to rely on him and while his guilty plea was significant, the breach of trust was a particularly aggravating factor.

“Mervyn Tanner was a financial and mortgage advisor. He was in a position of trust. He was a person who many of the victims were entitled to rely on, rely on his probity and trustworthiness to use money they might give him for their benefit. He was singularly negligent in that role.

‘Inveigled’

“He inveigled money out of these people. He put it to use in ways that are still not clear. People lost all - or a substantial part - of their money. There was all sort of dishonesty about where the money was and when it would be repaid. It was repaid in small amounts whenever the pressure came on.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said that in offering explanations to gardaí and to the court, Tanner had showed a lack of insight into his behaviour and the impact that his offending had had on his victims. He had strung them along with promises that he would repay them.

“This was never going to come right. It is gone. Most of these people are at a loss of very substantial sums of money. He used his business to dupe people out of substantial sums and there never was any real prospect of the money being paid back,” he said.

He said that he believed the fact that the offending went on so long and the number of injured parties were aggravating factors which merited a seven year sentence but said he would give him a two year discount for his guilty plea and sentenced him to five years in jail.