independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

This verdict boosts our faith in the rule of law

The ancient, blindfolded image of Lady Justice demands that justice is meted out without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money or power.

The unprecedented conviction of a serving judge for a serious criminal offence should provide comfort that no one is above the law.

District Court judge Heather Perrin, a former solicitor who attempted to deceive an elderly friend and client out of half of his €1m estate, is facing up to five years in prison after being tried by a jury of her peers.

Judge Perrin is not the first solicitor to stand accused of deceiving or defrauding unsuspecting clients who placed complete and utter trust in these officers of the courts.

Few, however, have been charged and brought before the criminal courts.

The prosecution of a judge, who herself sat in judgment of her fellow citizens, is to be welcomed.

And Judge Perrin should be treated no more or less than others convicted of similar crimes.

Regrettably, the already timid conviction rate for white-collar crimes, including fraud and deception, is in rapid decline.

The number of convictions fell from 467 in 2004 to 178 in 2010, over a period when the number of recorded offences rose by 33pc.

The failure to adequately resource the investigation and prosecution of these offences risks the creation of a two-tier criminal justice system that punishes crime in the streets whilst leaving those who commit "crime in the suites" beyond the reach of the law.

Irish Independent

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