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Pretend dead swindler is jailed

A 31-year-old forger, who claimed to be dead after swindling her lover and banks out of €26,800, was jailed in the Republic of Ireland for three years yesterday.

Diane Connelly was already serving a jail sentence for frauds totalling €41,000 when she was convicted yesterday in the latest extraordinary case of deception.

Connelly pretended her father died in a plane crash between the US and Canada.

Then she pretended to her fiance Danny Walsh in a hoax call that she was a step-sister in Canada phoning to inform him Diane Connelly had died.

In reality she had been emptying his bank account and, with the money taken, did not want to see him again.

Donegal Circuit Court yesterday heard a litany of 20 offences that added up to €26,800 in thefts from Mr Walsh by forging cheques in his name with the Bank of Ireland and AIB in Dungloe and Falcarragh, Co Donegal.

The court heard Connelly was living in Belleek, Co Fermanagh, when she met Mr Walsh in January 2008 and they moved in together in Sheskinarone, Dungloe, in April 2008 and became engaged in June.

Detective John Gallagher told the court that Danny Walsh contacted him in January 2009 to complain about missing sums of money from his banks.

As a result of his investigations, he discovered that Connelly did not go to Edinburgh or Canada. Instead, she was picked up on CCTV cameras in Dublin as she made withdrawals.

Gardai captured her driving in a blue car in Co Wicklow.

Since then, separate frauds worth €41,000 in Kerry and Cork dating back to 2005 came to light. She was jailed last June for three years on foot of these offences.

The detective said Connelly -- who also used the name McDonald and who at one time had a UK passport claiming she was 49 -- knew Mr Walsh's funds were being exhausted and she wanted to extract herself from the situation so he wouldn't follow her.

Det Gallagher added: "As matters stand, I am not able to say conclusively who she is."

He added that Mr Walsh refused to come to court as he had suffered considerable embarrassment and couldn't understand how he didn't see what was happening.

He also couldn't forgive Connelly for claiming she was dead and his mother spent a week in hospital as a result with shock.

Judge John O'Hagan paid tribute to Det Gallagher for his meticulous investigation.

The judge said: "To put it in its simplest terms, she was a confidence trickster who hoodwinked Mr Walsh up to his ears."

He jailed Connelly for three years, with the sentence to run concurrently with last year's jail term.

Source Irish Independent

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