The fraudster jailed for swindling a string of lonely hearts out of more than £300,000 is a serial conman and former altar boy whose first victim was the grandmother who raised him, the Mail can reveal.
Cieran McNamara, 37, fleeced Kathleen O’Sullivan out of around £60,000 after repeatedly withdrawing money from her bank account and raiding a wardrobe where she stashed cash at home.
A relative said the fraudster had a ‘remarkable ability to remember long numbers’ which he also used to memorise his grandmother’s bank card numbers – using them to pay for hotels around the country where he lived the high life.
The grandmother took him in because his McNamara’s own mother, who had health problems, could not control him.
But around the same time, the conman also began stealing from the Catholic church where he was taken by Mrs O’Sullivan.
The ‘horrified’ pensioner only discovered what was happening at her beloved church in Binley, Coventry, when the priest came around to tell her that McNamara, one of the altar boys at the church, had been caught helping himself to the contents of the collection box.
Cieran McNamara, jailed for swindling a string of lonely hearts out of more than £300,000 is a serial conman, whose first victim was the grandmother who raised him
The grandmother took him in because his McNamara’s own mother, who had health problems, could not control him. He fleeced Kathleen O’Sullivan out of around £60,000
McNamara’s despairing family took him to the city’s Chase Avenue police station – these days used to hold terror suspects or those suspected of major crime – in a bid to jolt him out of his criminal ways. But as Chester Crown Court heard this week, it seems to have little effect.
A relative said: ‘He was taken to the police station by his uncle who asked officers to put the fear of God in to him. They chucked him in a cell for a few hours in the hope it would teach him a lesson and Cieran spent that time crying his eyes out apparently. He was only 14 or so at the time.
‘But it clearly didn’t work and we don’t have anything to do with him these days.
‘Cieran was never violent, but he was always a thief, even as a boy.’
The court heard McNamara used a string of false identities, posing as a barrister, company director and property developer to target wealthy singletons online, or in luxury hotels and clubs, wining and dining them using other victims’ cash.
In total, he fleeced four women living from Cheshire to Hertfordshire out of £302,000 and was jailed for seven years.
Only child McNamara grew up in Coventry, where his half-Polish mother, Christine Ostrowski, almost died giving birth to him.
A relative said: ‘It was discovered that she had a heart condition and doctors warned her not to have any more children, or it could cost her her life.’
The child ended up going to stay with his grandmother Kathleen at the terrace home she shared with second husband Maurice in Binley, Coventry, but soon went off the rails.
‘His grandmother used to keep money in her wardrobe and he used to go in and take it. He’d always deny it was him that had done it, but he had.’
Another uncle once pinned McNamara up against a wall after catching him stealing money off his mother, the source said.
Eventually two of Kathleen’s 11 children confronted McNamara and kicked him out of his grandmother’s house, the relative added.
‘He could remember her bank cards and used them to live the high life, staying in hotels all over the place. He had this ability to remember the numbers and sort codes and would just quote them to pay for things.
The conman went on to pose as a Crown Prosecution Service barrister to trick a woman he formed a relationship with into letting him use her bank cards, running up a £3,700 bill
‘He’d travel on the trains without a ticket and if he was ever caught he’d give his grandmother’s brother’s name and address to the ticket attendant.’
The source said the family managed to recover around half of the £60,000 he stole from his grandmother but it is unclear whether McNamara repaid the cash or whether the banks refunded the pensioner, who died in 2018.
The conman’s own mother died of a heart attack three years earlier at the age of 52 – just months after McNamara had set up a credit account with builder’s merchant Jewsons, running up a £7,000 bill, and using her home as the correspondence address of his ‘company’.
The family warned him not to dare attending her funeral, and McNamara stayed away. They haven’t spoken to him since.
A warrant was issued when McNamara – then using his mother’s maiden name of Griffin – later failed to attend court over the Jewsons theft.
The conman went on to pose as a Crown Prosecution Service barrister to trick a woman he formed a relationship with into letting him use her bank cards, running up a £3,700 bill.
He was jailed for 28 months both offences at Warwick Crown Court in 2017.
In 2014 McNamara – under the name Griffin – was jailed for 15 months for a similar offence against a woman he had met through a dating website.