A BUSINESSMAN turned whistleblower gave evidence against his brother and their lifelong friend alleging that the three of them forged a bachelor farmer's will.
Charlie O'Leary (54) testified at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court that his brother, William O'Leary, and former friend, Noel Hayes, had "sat down with a blank will" in the name of 82-year-old single farmer Matthew Hayes.
Mr Hayes, from Duncannon, Co Wexford, died in hospital on Christmas Day of 1998. In a document purporting to be his will, Mr Hayes left his estate of 162 acres and monies in various accounts to Noel Hayes, a distant relation.
Charlie O'Leary and his brother, William, were executors of the will.
Noel Hayes (59), of Ramsgrange, New Ross, and William O'Leary (49), of Kilhile, Arthurstown, New Ross, both deny forging the will in the name of Matthew Hayes, on a date unknown between December 25, 1998, and January 8, 1999.
Prosecution counsel Philip Sheahan said central to the case was that Matthew Hayes did not make the will and it was in fact "complete deception".
He said an unusual feature of the case was that Charlie O'Leary was an "accomplice" in that he participated in the offence but later came forward and admitted it.
Charlie O'Leary received a suspended sentence of 18 months and was ordered to pay €30,000 in compensation after pleading guilty to his part in the forgery in 2009.
Mr O'Leary told the court that Noel Hayes had a copy of a cheque with Matthew Hayes's signature on it.
On Christmas Eve, the pair visited Matthew Hayes in hospital in Wexford but he was in a vegetative state.
Charlie O'Leary said he and Noel Hayes had been best friends from the age of 10. He decided that he would help his lifelong friend after the death of his distant relative. "I said I would partake in the writing up of a false will," he said.
Under cross-examination, Mr O'Leary, of The Haggard, Ramsgrange, Co Wexford, admitted he and his brother, William, "wouldn't have been drinking buddies".
"Willie and myself don't talk at all since November 2004."
It was put to Mr O'Leary, who is one of 13 children, that he had fought "like a proverbial cat and dog for years" with his brother, William.
The court heard that Noel Hayes's wife had "begged" Charlie O'Leary to "come in on" a land deal. Mr O'Leary said he was "under severe pressure with work" and did not get involved with the deal. Defence counsel Patrick Gageby asked Mr O'Leary if he had complained about Noel Hayes "f***ing" him in a land deal.
"It's a lie. There's no truth in that whatsoever," replied Mr O'Leary.
Mr Gageby put it to the witness that he "wanted to bring down Noel Hayes and William O'Leary".
The trial continues.