Tuesday 21 October 2014

Video: Judge Heather Perrin gets two-and-a-half years jail for deception over client’s will

Published 28/11/2012 | 11:25

Heather Perrin. Photo: Courtpix
Heather Perrin. Photo: Collins

FORMER judge Heather Perrin has been jailed for two-and-a-half-year sentence for deceiving an elderly client out of half of his €1m estate.

The District Court judge, a former solicitor, has made legal history as the first member of the judiciary to be sent to jail.

The 61-year-old, who is recovering from a post-surgical infection following a complicated knee operation - resigned from the bench last Monday, days ahead of her sentence hearing, sparing the Government the prospect of an impeachment process.

Mrs Perrin maintained her innocence throughout her eight-day trial, but today her lawyers said that she accepted the unanimous jury decision as "right and proper".

Trial judge Mary Ellen Ring said Thomas Davis and his wife Ada "implicitly" followed the advice of their solicitor and friend Mrs Perrin.

The breach of trust was one of the most serious breaches of trust to come before the courts, said Judge Ring, who added that Mrs Perrin and the Davises had experienced a "lifetime of shared experiences".

At his stage of life, Mr Davis (83) should "not be next or near a courtroom" said Judge Ring who described him as a "clearly impressive witness".

Heather Perrin fought tears as Judge Ring announced that an immediate custodial sentence was appropriate.

Judge Ring said Heather Perrin's two adult children were caught up in a nightmare not of their own making.

One aggravating factor was the fact that Heather Perrin knew she was to be appointed a judge when the offence occurred, said Judge Ring.

The former solicitor, who ran a practice in north Dublin, Perrin was appointed as a District Court judge in 2009, just a month after tricking octogenarian Thomas Davis into leaving a huge sum of money to her two children.

She maintained her innocence throughout her seven-day trial at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court but was found guilty.

Perrin, of Lambay Court in Malahide, had pleaded not guilty to deceptively inducing Mr Davis to bequeath half of his estate to Sybil and Adam Perrin at Heather Perrin's office on Fairview Strand on January 22, 2009.

The former director of the Girls Brigade International Council, the Christian organisation for young girls, resigned with immediate effect last night sparing the Government the prospect of impeachment proceedings.

Perrin has been on long-term sick leave from the bench and has remained close to her Malahide home since being sentenced.

The 60-year-old, who earned €147,961 a year as a District Court judge, is entitled to a modest pension of 3/80th of her salary for her three years’ service. It will be paid to her on reaching pensionable age.

Last week she was found guilty by a unanimous jury of deceiving Mr Davis, whose wife Ada the judge knew through the Irish Girls Brigade.

Her defence team suggested that Mr Davis suffered memory problems and had somehow "forgotten" leaving half of his estate to the Perrin children.

In just under four hours the jury decided that Mr Davis, who left €2,000 each in his will for the Perrin children, was not suffering memory loss.

Separate charges of deception relating to the will of Mr Davis's wife Ada, were dropped before Perrin's trial because Mrs Davis's mental state had declined to the point where she was unable to give evidence.

Prosecutor Dominic McGinn said Perrin fought the case using "lies, half-truths and deceptions".

A brief statement from the Courts Service, issued last night, said Judge Heather Perrin had offered her immediate resignation from the District Court.

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