At Mullingar Circuit Court, Judge Anthony Hunt said, it was important that Gerard Killally, (42) of Shean, Edenderry in Offaly had spent time in prison.
He then suspended the remainder of a three-year sentence he imposed on the former Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council and former general election running mate of Brian Cowen.
On November 13, just two weeks ago, he remanded Killally in custody after he pleaded guilty to stealing €18,000 worth of equipment from a shop he used to own in Rochfortbridge, Westmeath, but which became property of official assignee Christopher Lehane when Killally was declared bankrupt.
Killally also admitted forging a letter and business card which he faxed to Mr Lehane, alleging that the stolen equipment had been repossessed by the leasing company he’d bought it through.
The father of four stashed the items at the stables of his luxurious home, then sold them on Done Deal for less than €2,000, claiming he’d been under increasing pressure from someone he owed money to.
During yesterday’s 13-minute sentencing, counsel for Killally said he’d found prison “horrible” - but Judge Hunt said that was his intention.
He’d wanted Killally to have a full insight into the consequences of what he’d done, he said.
Because of his political background, Killally should have known better than to do what he did, the judge said, adding that he should also have known how important it is to uphold the integrity of the bankruptcy process.
He said he was concerned at the forgery of documents to throw Mr Lehane off the scent, but said it was important to keep a sense of perspective about the case.
Killally’s actions were not sophisticated and the forgery would have been discovered by Mr Lehane, he said.
“It didn’t involved hundreds of thousands of euro transported offshore,” he noted, and described the fraud as “relatively small” and said Killally had been under genuinely severe financial stress.
He also noted that Killally had spent a month in a psychiatric hospital for severe depression before this incident happened. He added that this criminal conviction, added to his fall from political and financial grace were humiliating and will have an impact on his ability to get work in the future.
Killally’s current situation is bleak and difficult, he said but noted that €18,000 compensation had been paid.
He imposed a three-year sentence for the theft offences, which he suspended for three years, and Killally will complete 240 hours’ community service for the fraud offence.