Tuesday 24 January 2017

Convicted executives portrayed as 'truthful, modest and unassuming'

Published 26/07/2016 | 02:30

Denis Casey: ‘Always decent’. Pic Collins Courts
Denis Casey: ‘Always decent’. Pic Collins Courts

A retired senior garda, a former senior civil servant, a former army captain and a UCD academic were among character witnesses called to give evidence at the sentencing hearing for the three men convicted in the Anglo conspiracy trial.

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The witnesses appeared as counsel for former bank executives John Bowe, Willie McAteer and Denis Casey made pleas for leniency.

John Bowe: ‘Never misleading’. Pic Collins Courts
John Bowe: ‘Never misleading’. Pic Collins Courts

John Fearon, a former senior civil servant and brother-in-law of ex-Anglo employee John Bowe, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court he had known the defendant for 30 years.

"I've always known John to be a good husband and father. He has done an awful lot over the years to make sure his children are well looked after and given them guidance and principles," he said.

Mr Fearon said Mr Bowe had supported charitable organisations over the years and continued to do so right up to his trial.

He was regularly of assistance to the St Vincent de Paul Sunshine Fund and had volunteered to help the homeless at Merchants Quay in 2014. Mr Fearon said Mr Bowe was an active and well respected member of the community. He described him as "truthful, straightforward and never misleading".

Willie McAteer: ‘Lived modestly’. Pic Collins Courts
Willie McAteer: ‘Lived modestly’. Pic Collins Courts

Another brother-in-law, UCD associate professor Peadar Ó Gaora, said he too had known Mr Bowe for 30 years. Mr Bowe had an incredible work ethic, but had never lost sight of the importance of this family.

Mr Ó Gaora said Mr Bowe was "very modest" and never talked about the promotions earned in his career. "There was nothing ostentatious, nothing flashy about him," he said.

During the financial crisis, it was apparent Mr Bowe was under strain. He lost weight, looked drawn and it was clear he was working hard at the bank, said Mr Ó Gaora.

In 2011, Mr Bowe suffered a major blow when his mother was diagnosed with frontal temporal lobe dementia, which brought about a very rapid decline. She subsequently died.

Mr Ó Gaora said Mr Bowe was involved in all of the phases of organising help for his mother.

He said that after media coverage as a result of the Anglo Tapes in June 2013, Mr Bowe hadn't been able to leave his house without the media pursuing him.

This went on for several months, he said.

The court heard from Patrick O'Shea, a chartered accountant who had known former Anglo chief risk officer Willie McAteer since the 1970s.

He said the father-of-two had lived modestly and that his wife had looked after disadvantaged people.

Mr O'Shea was the only witness called for Mr McAteer. Barrister Patrick Gageby SC said his client's professional life had ended in disgrace. He said Mr McAteer could have left the bank in 2005 but chief executive David Drumm asked him to stay.

A former army captain, Denis Heavey, gave character evidence for Mr Casey. He said he had known the former Irish Life & Permanent boss since 1995 when they were both involved with the Insurance Institute of Ireland.

He described Mr Casey as "very much hands-on and committed" and an ethical man "always focused on the greater good".

The Anglo conviction was "inconsistent" with his experience of Mr Casey.

Another witness, former Irish Life employee Eamon Porter, described Mr Casey as "always courteous" and "always respectful".

Success had not affected Mr Casey and he was "always decent", he said.

A retired garda chief superintendent, Gabriel McIntyre, said he knew Mr Casey through their involvement in St Brigid's GAA and Coolmine rugby clubs in Dublin.

He described him as "very unassuming" and said he had conducted fundraising efforts for which he did not seek any credit or publicity.

"There is not a bad bone in Denis Casey's body," he said.

Irish Independent

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