Friday 15 December 2017

Callely blamed fraud on friend who took own life, court told

Ivor Callely pictured at the Courts of Criminal Justice. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Ivor Callely pictured at the Courts of Criminal Justice. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Ivor Callely pictured at the Courts of Criminal Justice . Pic Frank Mc Grath
Ivor Callely pictured at the Courts of Criminal Justice . Pic Frank Mc Grath

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

IVOR Callely tried to blame a friend and business associate who had taken his own life for the fraudulent invoices the former Fianna Fail junior minister submitted to claim mobile phone expenses, a court has been told.

The shocking revelation came as the disgraced former politician pleaded guilty to three further fraud charges at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The court also heard about the break-up of Callely's marriage 12 months ago.

Callely will be sentenced over the fraud offences, which carry a maximum prison term of 10 years, next Monday.

The court heard evidence from a member of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation that Callely suggested to detectives that his late business associate John O'Dolan might have been responsible for the invoices, which were used to claim over €4,000 in expenses from the Oireachtas.

Mr O'Dolan tragically took his own life in 2009 after battling with depression. Sergeant Adrian Kelly told the court Callely made the claim while being questioned by gardai in January 2012. Callely (56) had also denied any wrongdoing and said he did not recognise the invoices when they were shown to him by gardai.

However, at yesterday's hearing, Callely, of St Lawrences Road, Clontarf, Dublin, pleaded guilty to three of six charges made against him. He previously pleaded guilty to one other count last March.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring adjourned the hearing to allow counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Dominic McGinn SC, to make submissions on whether Callely's former position as a politician was an aggravating factor in the case and should be considered in sentencing.

She put it to Callely's counsel, Michael O'Higgins SC, that a politician was someone who set the legal parameters within which citizens live.

The judge said that when they “offend against the legal parameters, they effectively say: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

The court heard Callely used invoices from defunct businesses to claim expenses under an Oireachtas scheme which allows TDs and senators to claim €750 for mobile phones every 18 months.

Shortly after being appointed a senator in 2007, he began submitting for expenses at 18-month intervals.

He also submitted retrospective invoices from his time |as a TD, after being told he could do so by Oireachtas officials.

However, his use of bogus invoices was uncovered following a freedom of information request by a journalist and Callely had moved to repay most of the expenses.

Mr O'Higgins told the |court his client had “taken a shortcut in giving bogus receipts”. He said Callely had suffered “a number of pretty serious personal, political and financial setbacks in recent years”.

These included the break-up of his marriage to his wife Jennifer 12 months ago and an €11m court judgment against him over a failed property venture.

Mr O'Higgins said that Callely had suffered “a significant fall from grace” and “would continue to pay a significant price for that”. He said his client had suffered “enormous anxiety” as well as “humiliation and shame in his community”.

Callely served as a junior health minister and junior transport minister between 2002 and 2005.

However, he had to resign his ministry following revelations one of the country's biggest building companies, John Paul Construction, paid for work which was carried out at his home in Clontarf.

He lost his Dail seat in 2007 but was appointed to the Seanad by Bertie Ahern, where he remained until 2011.

Irish Independent

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