Investors tell of devastation caused by Custom House Capital collapse

Sentencing hearing of former directors and executives told of suffering and ‘devastation’ of victims who lost their pensions

The stress of losing his pension investment contributed to the death of her husband, a woman told the sentencing hearing of four men associated with collapsed investment firm Custom House Capital (CHC).

Catherine Heron, whose husband Patrick died at the age of 61, was among those who gave victim impact statements to the hearing before Judge Orla Crowe of the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Nick Coy, whose aunt Helga was born in Germany in 1929 and who died two years ago, broke down as he told the court about keeping it secret from her since 2011 that the money her late husband had given to CHC had been lost.

“The second World War destroyed her home but Harry Cassidy did more damage to her life than what had happened before,” he said. Keeping what had happened secret from his aunt, who died alone in a hospital in Germany during the Covid pandemic, had been “a nightmare”.


A book containing 197 victim impact statements was handed into Judge Crowe, who said she would read them before handing down sentences on May 12th.

Awaiting sentence are Harry Cassidy (66), Paul Lavery (47), John Mulholland (72) and John Whyte (52). Cassidy, Lavery and Whyte have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud between 2008 and 2011, while Mulholland has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of neglect in his duties as a company director.

Brian Reilly told the court he invested more than €300,000 with CHC but he and his wife were now left dependant on the State pension. The loss of their pension had been “devastating”, he said. They had been “innocent consumers” lured into making the investment by brokers.

Patrick Elliott (78) said he had invested with CHC in 2007 so as to provide for his and his wife’s retirement after 40 years of working and being self-employed. They had been left penniless, he said. “Thank God for the State pension.”

He said he and his wife had sold their home in Dublin and moved to a smaller house in Co Kildare so as to get some capital. The stress and anxiety of what had happened had damaged their marriage. It was, he said, great that the court was hearing of the suffering that had been caused.

Prosecuting counsel Lorcan Staines SC read out some other victim impact statements, without giving names. One man aged 77 said he and his wife were left struggling to keep their heads above water. “This was not the way I wanted to end my days.”

Another man, aged 74, said the worry and depression caused to him by what had happened had “played havoc” with his health and that he wished those before the court “no rest in this life for their ill deeds”.

A woman, aged 72, said her late husband had worked all his life and wanted to provide for their golden years. She was “grateful” that her husband had died before “this mess came to light”.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent