A man who posed as a barrister to defraud vulnerable women has been sentenced to eight months behind bars.
Christopher McDonnell, 34, from Limewood in Banbridge, admitted four counts of fraud by false representation, two counts of theft and two forgery charges.
While seven charges admitted related to one woman, the eighth charge to which McDonnell pleaded guilty centred around him posing as a barrister in order to make gain for himself or cause loss to a second woman.
The two women were described in court as vulnerable and the money involved was in the region of £15,000.
Belfast Crown Court heard how McDonnell’s offending began at a time when he was trying to keep the business afloat.
One of the victims became suspicious when her case was not moving at a pace she would have expected.
She contacted Chambers in London about her case, where they told her McDonnell was not a recognised barrister.
She then contacted the law firm in which she had received a forged letter but they too denied any knowledge of the case or McDonnell as a practicing barrister at their firm.
It was at this point the woman contacted police. A second case then came to light.
While prosecution said the case thefts were pre-meditated, McDonnell’s defence team suggested their client was “robbing Peter to pay Paul” due to financial pressures he had come under.
McDonnell will spend eight months in prison with a further eight months on licence.
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