Will forgery retrial moved to Dublin

Published 13/05/2014 | 05:38

TWO men who received prison sentences for forging the will of an elderly farmer have had their retrial transferred to Dublin.

In February last year, Noel Hayes (60) of Ramsgrange was sentenced to six years (with three years suspended) and fined €500,000 for intending to defraud by producing a certain document purporting to be a will made by farmer Matthew hayes.

His co-accused, Willie O'Leary (51) from Arthurstown, was sentenced to three years (with 18 months suspended) and ordered to pay €200,000.

The men had denied the charge but were sentenced by Judge Raymond fullan after being found guilty by a jury at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court.

After the trial, the men were both remanded on bail pending an appeal as the court had heard earlier that a document had been found in the jury room that raised an issue as to the safety of the conviction.

When the matter came before the Court of Criminal Appeal, Judge Frank Clarke heard the State was not opposing the appeal.

In January, Judge Clarke allowed the appeal following submissions and ordered a retrial.

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Counsel Paul O'Higgins told Judge Barry Hickson at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court last week that it would be 'unthinkable' for a fair trial to be heard in Wexford.

He said the previous trial had received 'substantial' publicity locally, making it more difficult for a jury and was asking for it to be transferred to Dublin. Prosecuting Counsel Philip Sheahan contended that the case is as equally well-known in Dublin as in Wexford.

Judge Hickson said there was a guilty verdict in relation to both men ,which was reversed by the Court of Criminal Appeal. The circumstances in the case are 'quite peculiar'. He said he had a little doubt about the issue and would favour that doubt in favour of the application and transfer the matter for trial to the next sitting of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

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