The Corkman - - NEWS -

A JEWELLER who conned an 84 year old North Cork woman out of al­most €20,000 when sell­ing a valu­able Cartier brooch at auc­tion at Sotheby’s has been given a sus­pended prison sen­tence af­ter a judge heard that he made good progress on a course aimed at ad­dress­ing a num­ber of men­tal health is­sues.

Michael Wall, who had been in the jew­ellery busi­ness for around 12 years, had been con­victed by a jury at Cork Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court in June 2017 of a to­tal of five of­fences re­lat­ing to his han­dling of the sale of a valu­able Cartier brooch be­long­ing to an el­derly woman from Kan­turk in North Cork.

Wall (40), with an ad­dress at Mar­i­onville, Alexan­dra Road, St Luke’s, Cork, had de­nied the charges but the jury de­liv­ered unan­i­mous guilty ver­dicts on four counts and a ma­jor­ity 10-2 guilty ver­dict on a fifth charge of pro­duc­ing a fake Sotheby’s doc­u­ment in the course of the fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tion.

The main charge con­cerned the theft of over €16,000 which rep­re­sented the dif­fer­ence be­tween the sum of ap­prox­i­mately €44,000 Sotheby’s paid to Wall for a Cartier brooch ob­tained from the pen­sioner and the €27,800 he sub­se­quently paid her for the piece.

The court heard how the woman’s daugh­ter had made con­tact with Wall and trav­elled to Mal­low to col­lect him and bring him to their home in Kan­turk where he told them that the Cartier brooch was worth any­thing up to €70,000 or €80,000 and he promised to con­tact Sotheby’s on their be­half.

He later con­tacted them to say that he had spo­ken to Sotheby’s about sell­ing the jew­ellery and they later met him at a res­tau­rant in Cork where they handed over the Cartier brooch and two other brooches to auc­tion them at Sotheby’s.

Wall later rang them to say the brooch had sold for 40,000 Swiss Francs at a Sotheby’s at auc­tion in Geneva and in De­cem­ber 2012 the woman and her daugh­ter met Wall in Cork city and he gave them a bank draft for €27,801, and she gave him a cheque for €500, even though he said he didn’t want any money.

The woman said that she got a bill from Wall for €2,251 and he also sent her a re­ceipt which he said came from Sotheby’s which showed the ham­mer price of the brooch was 44,000 Swiss Francs. How­ever, when the woman’s solic­i­tor, Michelle O’Ma­hony, checked on-line she found the brooch sold for 71,000 Swiss Francs.

Ara­bel Bishop, di­rec­tor of Sotheby’s in Ire­land, told Wall’s trial at Cork Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court that the doc­u­ment that the woman re­ceived, which pur­ported to be a re­ceipt is­sued by Sotheby’s, was a fake and not is­sued by the com­pany.

Wall agreed the doc­u­ment ap­peared to be fake but he de­nied gen­er­at­ing or send­ing it and claimed he told the owner and her daugh­ter he would put the brooch on sale in his own name for the Swiss auc­tion and would pay them the euro equiv­a­lent of stg£25,000 if the brooch reached its re­serve price.

Wall de­nied in cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by prose­cu­tion coun­sel Imelda Kelly BL that he had be­trayed the fam­ily’s trust by pock­et­ing over €16,000 for him­self af­ter they had taken him into their home and their friend­ship, trust­ing him to get them a sale at auc­tion.

Ad­dress­ing the jury, de­fence bar­ris­ter Donal O’Sul­li­van BL said the fact that his client may have made a good deal for him­self did not mean he had com­mit­ted a crime and he pointed out that the Sotheby’s cat­a­logue listed the Cartier brooch lot as be­ing owned by “a gen­tle­man”.

How­ever, prose­cu­tion bar­ris­ter Imelda Kelly sub­mit­ted to the jury: “The un­der­stand­ing at all times was that he would place the items for auc­tion on her be­half. That was fun­da­men­tal. Any other sugges­tion sim­ply does not hold water.”

The jury found Wall guilty of steal­ing over €17,000, forg­ing the Sotheby’s doc­u­ment and that, in giv­ing the woman a bank draft for €27,800, he was in­duc­ing her to be­lieve it was the true pro­ceeds of the sale in or­der to make a gain for him­self, as well as two other theft charges of brooches worth €385 each.

De­tec­tive Garda Padraig Red­ding­ton, who in­ves­ti­gated the case, read a vic­tim im­pact state­ment on be­half of the el­derly woman at an ear­lier court hear­ing where she told how Wall’s de­ceit had im­pacted on her and her fam­ily.

The woman said that she had brought the case sim­ply to get “jus­tice for be­ing wronged” by some­one whom she had trusted and brought into her fam­ily home to help when she de­cided to put the valu­able brooch for sale.

‘I have had so many sleep­less nights. I now feel very vul­ner­a­ble in deal­ing with peo­ple. It has, af­ter 84 years of life, changed how I view and in­ter­act with peo­ple. I am Photo: Pro­vi­sion

now, more than ever, aware that you can no longer take some­one at their word and that trust needs to be earned,’ her state­ment read.

The woman pointed out that she was at a loss of over €17,000 as a re­sult of Wall’s de­ceit and she told of her shock when she learned that Wall had conned her out of the money while all the time pre­tend­ing to have done his best for her by sell­ing the brooch at Sotheby’s auc­tion in Geneva in 2012.

‘My solic­i­tor looked up the sale on the in­ter­net and that was the first time I heard the true value of the sale of the brooch. I felt I could have died with the shock and couldn’t be­lieve some­one could be so dis­hon­est … I felt stupid for trust­ing some­one who has, now so clearly in hind­sight, done me so wrong.’

Judge Seán Ó Donnab­háin re­manded Wall in cus­tody for eight weeks in June 2017 to see if a place was avail­able for him on the HSE En­deav­our Pro­gramme, which deals with peo­ple with per­son­al­ity dis­or­ders, and last week at the re­sumed hear­ing he heard Wall had made good progress on the 12 month course.

“This was a mean, de­spi­ca­ble of­fence where he gained the trust of his vic­tim and then abused it,” said Judge Ó Donnab­háin be­fore not­ing the progress he had made on the En­deav­our course, which was a first step to­wards re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, and he im­posed a three year sen­tence but sus­pended it in full.

Michael Wall, who is now in a HSE pro­gramme for peo­ple with per­son­al­ity dis­or­ders, re­ceived a three year prison sen­tence, which was sus­pended in full.

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