Toomebridge father and son charged over ‘fake fire resistant glass scam’

Seamus Laverty from Toomebridge
Seamus Laverty from Toomebridge

A father and son from Toomebridge appeared in court on Tuesday, accused of being at the centre of an alleged fire resistant glass fraud.

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

Both from the Deer Park Road in Toomebridge, they 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 it’s alleged, 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.

Among the 39 alleged victims who believed they had been fitted with fire resistant glass are: National University of Ireland in Galway ( 51,500 euros); Strathearn School in east Belfast (£22,130); Brooklands Care Home (£20,000);

In addition the alleged frauds span the UK with other allegations relating to retail outlets such as Hamleys in Cardiff, KFC in Edinburgh, DW Sports in Leicester, Urban Retail Outlet in Camden and another DW sports in Gainsborough also falling foul to the alleged scam.

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 fire resistant glass is designed to withstand higher temperatures than normal glass, giving anyone trapped inside a burning building a potential way of escape whereas the standard laminate glass allegedly provided by the Laverty’s was not so designed.