A MAN who concealed the body of his dead friend for 19 days from the authorities yesterday walked free from court.
Bernard Flaherty (37) admitted that he put the dead man's family through "three weeks of hell" by not telling them that the body of Frank Hassett was in his shower unit at his Ennis apartment in June-July 2011.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Carroll Moran imposed a suspended three-year jail term on Mr Flaherty for knowingly making a false statement to gardai on June 24, 2011, in relation to the whereabouts of the late Mr Hassett (25).
Mr Flaherty, of Lifford Lodge, Ennis, had concealed Mr Hassett's body for 19 days before breaking down in a garda interview on July 3, 2011 and admitting Mr Hassett's body was in his shower wrapped in plastic.
Mr Hassett (25) died in Mr Flaherty's apartment on June 14 after taking prescription drugs with Mr Flaherty.
Michael Collins, defending, told the court yesterday that Mr Flaherty didn't tell gardai about Mr Hassett's death because he believed that he would in some way be blamed for it.
Mr Hassett's body was badly decomposed and he was identified by his dental records and a tattoo.
Sentencing, Judge Moran said that he had never come across anything like the circumstances described in the case in his 15 years as a judge and time as a barrister.
He said: "The facts are unique."
Judge Moran said that Mr Flaherty's behaviour was extraordinary and was, he believed, due to "a dysfunctional attitude rather than a criminal propensity".
Judge Moran said that the aggravating facts in the case were the trauma that Mr Flaherty put the Hassett family through and the wasting of major policing operations.
Judge Moran said that because of Mr Flaherty's actions, he had deprived the Hassett family of saying goodbye to their son and brother. Judge Moran said that Mr Flaherty had pleaded guilty and has 27 previous convictions.
A relative of Mr Hassett's described the sentence as a "f***ing joke" before leaving the courtroom.