Councillor Michael Fahy: feels vindicated
THE fraud conviction against councillor Michael 'The Stroke' Fahy has been quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal for the second time.
The three-judge court yesterday found the conviction of the independent councillor -- for obtaining €7,000 by false pretences from Galway County Council in 2002 -- was unsafe.
No retrial has been ordered and Mr Fahy will not now face any future prosecutions.
Mr Fahy (60) declined to be interviewed or make any comment after the hearing, but in a statement last night, his solicitor Gearoid Geraghty said his client was very pleased with the outcome.
"He is very happy to have his good name restored and to be vindicated by the three judges of the Court of Criminal Appeal," he told the Irish Independent.
"He is only sad that his mother who died in the midst of all the controversy, in December 2008, did not live to see this day.
"Cllr Fahy is also particularly anxious to have the media refrain from referring to him as 'The Stroke' in the future. He never took offence at the term in the past, because it was used in the context of a different situation.
"But he never stood before the people as 'The Stroke' Fahy and he would be grateful if the media would henceforth refer to him by his proper name".
Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman had said earlier it was a "tangled case" full of unusual features.
He said a key prosecution witness claimed Mr Fahy issued him with an invoice for €7,000 -- which would be covered by council funds using an instrument known as a Notice of Motion.
Mr Justice Hardiman said the charge against Mr Fahy referred to obtaining by false pretences €7,000 from a different roads fund known as a Community Involvement Scheme.
The judge said the evidence before the court was completely different from the case made by the State.
Mr Fahy was first elected a Fianna Fail member of Galway County Council in 1979.
In September 2004, he resigned his membership of the party when he confirmed that he was the councillor at the centre of a garda investigation.
He went on trial in late February 2007 on seven charges of fraud, false accounting and attempting to make a personal gain or cause a loss to the council in respect of the erection of more than a mile of fencing on his land.
He was convicted by a jury on all charges and was sentenced to 12 months in prison and fined €75,000.
But after serving almost eight months in jail, the Court of Criminal Appeal struck down the conviction and ordered a re-trial.
At his re-trial in 2008, Judge Michael White withdrew two of the charges and Mr Fahy was convicted of one charge of obtaining the benefit of €7,055 from Galway County Council by false pretences. That was quashed yesterday.