Forgery case hears how woman claimed to be dead

A 31-year-old forger claimed to be dead after swindling her lover and banks in Donegal out of €26,800.

Leading up to her escape from her fiancé before he ran out of cash Diane Connelly first pretended her father died in a plane crash between the US and Canada.

Step two meant she told her fiancé Danny Walsh that she was going to Edinburgh to have a check for cancer but when staying overnight in Derry she then informed him she had heard her father’s body was found and she was flying to Canada to identify the body.

A few weeks after that she pretended she was a step-sister in Canada phoning a priest in Dungloe to inform Mr Walsh at his home that Diane Connelly had died.

She followed up with a series of names of friends to send messages to Mr Walsh in an effort to prove she had died. They included some jewellery and her favourite CDs.

Donegal Circuit Court last evening (Mon) 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 moneys from his banks.

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

She was captured in a blue car in Co. Wicklow. Since then €41,000 worth of frauds in Kerry and Cork dating  back to 2005 came to light and she was currently serving three years.

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.

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  said Connelly was a confidence trickster who hoodwinked Mr Walsh up to his ears.

He jailed Connelly for three years.