‘Classic Walter Mitty character’ coaxed money out of women he was dating

By Isabel Hayes

A “charming conman” with a history of defrauding acquaintances of thousands of euro has been jailed for a further 14 months after he wheedled money out of women he was dating by pretending to be sick.

David Marsh (31) told a woman he met on a dating website that he was anaemic and needed money for medication and flights to the US to see a specialist.

Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice 2 October 2016


He conned another woman he had just started dating out of €300 for a holiday that never materialised.

He was described in court as a “classic Walter Mitty character” with an “active fantasy life”.

Marsh, with an address in Glenvara Park, Knocklyon, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six counts of deception at various locations and one count of theft at the Eir store in Rathfarnham, Dublin, between March and June 2016.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of possessing heroin for sale or supply at Mountjoy Prison on September 18, 2016.

The court heard he was pressured into holding the drugs briefly while in jail for other fraud offences.

In July 2016, Marsh was jailed for two years for fraud offences which included conning a Limerick couple out of €76,000 by telling them he could get them a cheap house.

He later admitted to squandering the cash on an Audi car, a rugby holiday and a trip to New York.

Marsh was also jailed for conning his colleagues and tag-rugby teammates out of nearly €8000 by telling them he could get them tickets to a Conor McGregor UFC fight.

He was due to be released in May this year.

Sentencing him to a further 14 months on Friday Judge Martin Nolan said it was difficult to understand why Marsh carried out such crimes.

“He's a charming conman,” the judge said. “He gets money from people by ingratiating himself into their confidence and then gets money from them.”

“He needs to change his ways,” the judge added.

Garda John Burke told Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that in March 2016, Marsh became friendly with a man at a digital marketing course.

He told his victim he had contacts in the music business and persuaded him to hand over €250 for a supposed sound engineer course in London.

The court heard Marsh met another of his victims on a dating website in April 2016 and told her he had anaemia.

He then wheedled a total of €800 out of her under a number of guises, including that he needed money for medication, to travel to the US to see a specialist and for a fast-track passport.

In May 2016, Marsh started dating another woman and persuaded her to hand over €300 for a holiday. He then told her he had to cancel the holiday as he was sick, Gda Burke said.

He also stole €740 in cash from his employer, Eir, in April 2016, the court heard.

The theft was reported to gardai after  Marsh's employer noticed the money was missing from the Rathfarnham store's safe.

Marsh has 23 previous convictions, mostly for fraud-related offences.

The court heard that after he was jailed in 2016 for the previous frauds, he was caught by a prison officers in possession of €5600 worth of heroin.

Marsh said he was threatened by another prisoner and told to hold the drugs for a short period.

Defence barrister Leo Mulrooney BL said his client had a happy and well-adjusted childhood in south Dublin and was educated in Blackrock College before completing third level education.

He said prison was a “culture shock” to Marsh when he was jailed and he was “preyed upon” by other prisoners and put under pressure to hold the drugs.

In relation to the fraud offences, Mr Mulrooney said it was difficult to give an explanation for Marsh's actions.

He had no history of any kind of gambling, alcohol or drug addiction.

A psychological report handed up to court showed Marsh suffered from anxiety, anger and depression. He is “profoundly impulsive” and has an “active fantasy life”, the court heard.

“He's a classic Walter Mitty character,” Mr Mulrooney said, noting Marsh never took any measures to ensure he would not get caught.

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