Local school caught up in glass fraud case

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A Lurgan Primary School was among a number of organisations and businesses caught up in an alleged fire resistant glass fraud,

Carrick Primary School was among 39 alleged victims for a total of £4,875.

A father and son were in court last Tuesday accused of being at the centre of the alleged fire resistant glass fraud.

At Antrim Magistrates Court, 57-year-old Seamus James Laverty and his son, former director of Glassworks Ireland Ltd, James Laverty (26) were jointly charged with 41 offences.

The father and son, both from the Deer Park Road in Toomebridge, face single counts alleging they converted £23,887 of criminal property by purchasing “items associated with a rally car” between March and October 2012 and possessed criminal property, namely £10,000 in cash, on 13 August 2013.

The alleged fraudsters face a further 39 charges of committing fraud by false representation in that they claimed to have supplied fire resistant glass to various building suppliers but in truth, it was standard laminate glass.

The list of alleged victims spreads all over the UK and the Republic of Ireland and includes churches, schools, hospitals, universities accommodation for the elderly, shops, businesses and someone’s home.

While the court did not hear how much money was involved in the alleged scam, the charges reveal there was some £196,789 and Euro 127,834 worth of glass supplied on various dates between 1 November 2010 and 31 December 2013.

The case against the pair had been scheduled for a Preliminary Enquiry committal hearing which would have seen the case referred to the Crown Court but defence lawyer Aaron Thompson and Adam George asked for that to be adjourned for two weeks.

Describing the case as “quite complex,” Mr Thompson revealed he had been served with over 1,000 pages of evidence and statements and although he had been working through it, he needed more time.

He told District Judge Alan White, however, there was a “big question mark” for him concerning the police investigation, describing how they had received a complaint and then taken a “fairly broad brush approach” by interviewing all employees under caution “and then cherry pick out of that process the two Laverty’s to proceed against.”

“My concern is that having all the Crown witnesses under caution, they’re the witnesses who effectively point the finger at the two accused,” said the lawyer.

Added to the complexities of the case, said Mr Thompson, was the fact that each piece of glass in the respective charges would have to be cut, measured and forensically tested.

Granting legal aid for both defendants, Judge White relisted the case in two weeks.

The story relating to the alleged scam first emerged in October 2013 when officers from the PSNI interviewed a man who worked for Glassworks Ireland Ltd.