Businessmen cleared of forging will
Two businessmen accused of forging a will have been acquitted at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Noel Hayes (61) and William O’Leary (51) from New Ross, Co Wexford pleaded not guilty to forging the will of Matthew Hayes on a date between December 1998 and January 1999.
The jury of eight men and four women returned the not guilty verdict to Judge Patricia Ryan after nearly two and a half hours deliberation. It was day-nine of the trial.
The prosecution’s main witness Charlie O’Leary previously pleaded guilty and received an 18 month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay €30,000 into an account pending for the next of kin.
Charlie O’Leary spent four days in the witness box and gave evidence to the court that the will was not signed until a week after Matthew Hayes had died. Mr O’Leary said that Noel Hayes had wanted to “put right” an old land dispute in the family.
Noel Hayes told the jury that he was “the meat in the sandwich” in a vendetta by Charlie O’Leary against his brother William.
The court heard that the O’Learys had a “bitter and distrustful” business relationship which resulted in a number of legal disputes, some of which are still ongoing.
In one dispute, Charlie O’Leary was awarded around €3m in a high court case against the company he had run with his brother.
Aiden Doyle, SC, defending Mr Hayes, asked him what state of mind Charlie O’Leary was in around the time his business relationship with his brother broke down. Mr Hayes said he was a “tormented man”.
Mr Hayes said he was also a shareholder in a profitable vegetable company with Mr O’Leary but that he had wanted to close the business as William O’Leary was making money from it.
Mr Hayes said that when he voted against him to be stood down from that company’s board of directors Charlie O’Leary said “I’ll put you two fuckers in jail, or something to that effect. He was ranting and raving.”
Mr Hayes told his counsel that the O’Learys were often fighting and he had to intervene on several occasions.
The court heard Noel Hayes took ownership of just under €592,000 worth of assets including 162 acres of farmland from Matthew Hayes after being named in the will.