A 50-year old Donegal farmer who “believed he was doing God’s work” when he took €177,000 off seven investors has been convicted of 26 charges.
A jury took just one hour and two minutes today to decide this afternoon (Wednesday) that Thomas Elvin, Meencargagh, Ballybofey was guilty of 12 counts of acting as a business investment firm without authorisation and 14 counts of making profit or causing loss by deception. The offences took place on dates between December 2003 and March 2005 at locations in Donegal town, Ballybofey and Cloghan.
Elvin’s victims included Darren Williamson, his mother Mavourneen, his sister Michelle and Daniel Ward - all of Donegal town and Fergus Herron of Cloghanmore, Clogher. Sharman Duncan of Donegal town and her late mother Elizabeth were deprived of their life savings of €102,000, much of which included life insurance policies paid out following the death of John Duncan, Sharman’s father and Elizabeth’s husband, in January 2004. None of the seven investors ever received a penny back from Elvin, the court heard.
Elvin had told his investors they would get a 20% return on a 30-45 day investment and gave many of them shares in a company in the British Virgin Islands called Pear Shaped Resources. He told them that PSR was started in 1997 but in reality it was set up in January 2004. He also said that it managed a fund of €100m whereas its total share capital was €50,000.
The court heard that the bulk of the monies invested, over €140,00 was spent by Elvin. He withdrew one investor’s money they day after he lodged it to pay back another investor he owed €25,000.
Elvin told the court that he had used most of the money “to feed starving cattle” and make improvements to his farm. “In my mind, the farm belonged to the investors” he said.
READ THE FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S DONEGAL DEMOCRAT.