Belfast Telegraph

Man who posed as barrister refused bail

By Ashleigh McDonald

A 34-year old man who is awaiting sentence for posing as a barrister to commit fraud has been refused bail.

Telling Belfast Crown Court "I don't know what to believe in this case", Judge Patricia Smyth said Christopher McDonnell was not a suitable candidate for bail.

Earlier this month McDonnell, from Limewood in Banbridge, was ordered to appear in court where he was to be arraigned on nine charges. He arrived at court late, and blamed his delay on working in England and being delayed by a flight on the way home.

However, it later emerged that this claim was a lie, and he was remanded in custody by Judge Smyth ahead of next month's sentencing.

Applying to bail today, McDonnell's barrister Joel Lindsay said the remand came as a surprise to his client, who expected to come to court, enter his plea and return home. Instead, he had to arrange for someone to look after his dog from prison.

Seeking bail to allow McDonnell to "resolve some issues", Mr Linsday said this would also allow his client time to raise money which could then be given to the woman he defrauded by claiming to be a barrister.

It emerged the woman's mother had just died and that she was seeking legal help in relation to this when she was defrauded by McDonnell.

As well as expressing her anger and upset about what happened to her, the woman also said "I will never see a penny of my money."

However, Mr Lindsay said: "He has told me he is owed a fair bit of money. If he is released on bail, he can get enough money so that restitution can be made. He told me he has some money in his bank account, and that he can put the finger on certain people who owe him."

At this point, Judge Smyth said: "I don't know what to believe in this case."

During the bail application, Mr Lindsay said McDonnell has since accepted that his job did not take him outside the jurisdiction, and that he lied about why he was late for court.

Revealing it was "unlikely" that McDonnell would still have the job, Mr Lindsay said his client's dog has now been rehomed on a permanent basis.

When a Crown barrister was asked how he felt about McDonnell being granted bail, he pointed out that not only was McDonnell's offending based on lies, but he had also lied to the court.

Refusing bail, Judge Smyth said: "In light of the lies, I don't know where the truth is in this case."

Addressing McDonnell, the Judge added: "You are not a suitable candidate for bail." He was remanded back into custody and will be sentenced for fraud and theft offences next month.

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