Belfast Telegraph

Woman guilty of £270,000 Spanish property scam walks free

By Adrian Rutherford

A woman at the centre of an international property scam who duped investors out of £200,000 walked free from court today.

Bernadette McGeary had previously pleaded guilty to nine charges of theft and deception relating to the purchase of holiday homes in Spain.

The victims handed over tens of thousands of pounds believing they were buying property or investing with a view to making a quick profit.

But McGeary (55), of Carland Road in Dungannon, never delivered on the deals, and her victims were left empty-handed with nothing to show for their investments.

Today Belfast Crown Court heard that at one stage McGeary’s enterprise was legitimate, but it went awry after the Spanish market was badly hit by the property crash.

Some of the investors’ money went to builders while some was used to reimburse other individuals caught up in the scam.

Prosecuting lawyer Frank O'Donoghue QC said: “When investments had gone sour it was effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul. When the music stopped there was no money left in the kitty at all.”

However, a defence lawyer stressed McGeary had not personally benefited from the scam.

He said she had fallen victim to “a perfect storm” of market conditions and a tightening of regulations.

McGeary was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

She declined to comment as she left court.

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