A false document has been erected at the empty Waterford home of alleged fraudster Catherine O’Brien, warning of prosecution by the High Court.
The document was posted alongside a red “trespassers will be prosecuted” sign on a gateway at the property last weekend, amid a flurry of activity at the house which Ms O’Brien has not lived in in recent years.
Sources in the An Ghrianan estate in Ballinroad, Dungarvan said two cars were at the house on a number of occasions last weekend, while gardaí also visited the property.
It is understood the notice claiming to be a High Court order has been removed by gardaí. The notice, seen by the Irish Examiner, stated:
“Any person found interfering with this property is liable for PROSUCUTION (sic). This property is in full ownership of the state ordered by the PRESIDENT OF THE HIGH. Copies of the said order can be obtained at the central office of the High Court.”
Sources in the Courts Service said the document was not a legitimate document from the High Court.
The activity took place as the whereabouts of the Cork native remain unknown. An Irish Examiner investigation into O’Brien discovered she has been involved in organising the transportation of horses to Slovakia from Ireland, and has also been sourcing horse trainers there.
In recent months, the horses have been racing in Budapest and are now being trained in Hungary.
However, sources in eastern Europe do not believe O’Brien is in Slovakia or Hungary — although several say a woman called Katie O’Brien has enlisted the services of trainers and agents through phone communication — including from a number known to have been used by Catherine O’Brien in Ireland.
In January, a nolle prosequi was entered in the case of two men accused of demanding money with menace from the alleged fraudster as her whereabouts could not be established.
Last year, an earlier hearing in that case was told that Ms O’Brien, originally from Buttevant in Cork, is a suspect in eight active cases involving €100,000 and lesser amounts. She is wanted for questioning by gardaí investigating allegations of fraud in the sale of horses in the past three to four years.
The complaints under investigation relate to horse investment schemes through a website set up to target those interested in thoroughbred horses. Another relates to a scheme involving an investment in a property which was for sale in France, also related to horses. The website, which no longer exists, offered services such as racehorse purchase and management, and investment opportunities.
In February 2022, a decision was made in favour of the Criminal Assets Bureau, allowing the retention by the State of a 2015-registered Land Rover Discovery which the High Court ruled was purchased through the proceeds of “criminal frauds” by Ms O’Brien.
She appealed the decision and it was listed for directions in the Court of Appeal in Dublin in June last year. However, a spokesman for the Courts Service said the appeal never actually went in for hearing.
Instead, it was struck out, subject to an ‘Unless Order’, in July last year.