Developer Michael Ryan in Fred Forsey Jr Forsey case found not guilty of €80k bribes
FORMER councillor Fred Forsey Jnr is expected to immediately launch proceedings to try to overturn his conviction for corruption, after the developer accused of paying him €80,000 in bribes was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Millionaire property developer Michael Ryan (60) said he felt "vindicated" after he was found not guilty of making corrupt payments. However, he said his thoughts were with Forsey Jnr, and Mr Ryan called for him to be immediately freed from prison.
"The only sad part about it is that there's an innocent man in jail and I think we need to try and do something about that. He's certainly not guilty. I'm not guilty. He wasn't guilty. I know he wasn't guilty and I think the man should be walking out of jail tomorrow morning," said Mr Ryan.
Forsey Jnr was last year convicted at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court of six counts of receiving corrupt payments from a developer in 2006 when he was a member of Dungarvan Town Council.
Solicitor John Devane, who represented Forsey Jnr at his trial, said he will be writing to the former politician today informing him of the outcome of Mr Ryan's case and seeking instructions.
However, it is expected the former Fine Gael town councillor, who is currently serving a four-year sentence at the Midlands Prison, will move quickly to lodge an appeal.
At his own trial, Mr Ryan, with addresses at The Sweepstakes, Ballsbridge, Dublin, and Al Eile Stud, Kilgobnet, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, pleaded not guilty to three charges of making corrupt payments totalling €80,000 to Fred Forsey Jnr.
It was alleged that the payments were meant as a reward for Forsey Jnr for using his position as a councillor to help secure the re-zoning of a piece of land.
Mr Ryan told gardai the payments were a loan and had nothing to do with land. A jury yesterday returned a unanimous not guilty verdict and Mr Ryan walked free.
Speaking to the media outside, he said there should now be a "big effort to get Fred out of jail" and Mr Ryan said he will be making representations on behalf of the former politician.
"I know and Fred knows and we were the only two people in the conversation. I know he's innocent, he really is. He's not guilty. There were 17 other people I gave loans to. Some had agreements, some hadn't. The defence wanted me to name people but, in fairness, most of the people were friends and you certainly wouldn't be putting them up on the stand," he added.
Mr Ryan said that while he was delighted with the jury's verdict, the fact that Forsey Jnr was in jail was "the dampener on the day". Mr Ryan did not give evidence during his trial, but records of a number of interviews he had with gardai following his arrest in 2009 were read to the jury.