Man (64) accused of running bogus legal advice service found hiding in bushes by gardaí, court hears
A 64-YEAR-old man accused of operating a €1.2m bogus legal advice practice was found hiding in bushes when fraud detectives came to arrest him, a court has heard.© PA
David Williams, who is from England but has an address at Sroughan, Lacken, Blessington, Co Wicklow, was charged today with 14 fraud offences.
It follows a “vast” investigation into allegations that he posed as a barrister and charged 1500 clients for a range of legal services.
Detective Keith Gorman of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau told Dublin District Court that Mr Williams tried to hide in bushes at his home when officers came to arrest him.
He had also ignored their phone calls before they found him, Judge Treasa Kelly was told.
Mr Williams was brought to the Bridewell Garda station in Dublin and made no reply when he was charged.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has directed trial on indictment in the circuit court.
Detective Garda Gorman said Mr Williams is accused of 10 counts of deception which, on conviction, can result in a five-year prison sentence.
Mr Williams is also accused of two money laundering offences as well as charges for falsely operating as an insolvency practitioner and as a qualified barrister. The offences are alleged to have occurred in 2019 and last year.
He had been originally charged with four offences and appeared at Naas District Court in 2020, but those matters were dropped and replaced with 14 new charges today.
Objecting to bail, Detective Garda Gorman described it as a “vast” case.
He alleged Mr Williams represented himself as a barrister and was paid for legal services in relation to immigration, personal insolvency, divorce and personal injuries.
He allegedly advertised online and had three premises to carry out his business in which he charged a total of €1.2m to 1,500 clients
In excess of €400,000 had been paid to him, it was alleged.
He agreed with defence counsel Garrett Casey that Mr William made no admissions and that when the earlier charges were brought he had been allowed bail.
Mr Casey submitted that his client would contest the charges and given the complexity of the case he could remain in custody until beyond 2022 waiting for his trial.
There was no evidence of witness intimidation and he did not have a passport, counsel submitted.
Mr Casey argued that stringent bail conditions could be set.
The court heard Mr Williams is unemployed and legal aid was granted.
Judge Kelly granted bail in his own bond of €1,000 of which he must lodge €500. She ordered that he will also need another person with €4,000 available to be approved as an independent surety.
He was remanded in custody with consent to bail to appear at Cloverhill District Court next week. A book of evidence needs to be completed by the DPP before he can be returned for trial.
Once the bail has been paid, he must reside at his home address, remain in the jurisdiction, obey a curfew, have no contact with witnesses, sign on daily at Blessington Garda station, stay in Co. Wicklow and not apply for travel documentation.