Saturday 24 February 2018

Former Fine Gael politician loses appeal over corrupt payments conviction

Fred Forsey Jnr
Fred Forsey Jnr

A FORMER Fine Gael Councillor has lost his appeal against his conviction for receiving corrupt payments from a property developer.

Fred Forsey Jnr (45), of Coolagh Road, Abbeyside, Dungarvan Co Waterford, had pleaded not guilty to receiving €80,000 in three corrupt payments from a property developer in 2006, who had an interest in a planning permission for the development of land at Ballygagin, Co Waterford.

It was alleged he had behaved corruptly in trying to persuade officials and councillors in Waterford County Council to grant permission for the development, and when that was refused, attempting to alter the zoning of the land in the Waterford Co Development Plan.

It was also claimed he had sought to get the council he was a member of, Dungarvan UDC, to bring the lands into its control. 

He was found guilty by a jury at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to six years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Judge Gerard Griffin on June 27 2012.

The Court of Appeal today dismissed all grounds of his appeal against his conviction.

 Mr Forsey, who had served the sentence before the appeal came on, was present when the judgment was delivered.

The appeal was brought on grounds including that the judge presiding over his trial gave "a very serious misdirection" to the jury on how to deal with the presumption of corruption.

Forsey's lawyers argued the trial judge incorrectly instructed the jury that Forsey had to discharge the reverse burden on the balance of probabilities.

It was further submitted that the trial judge erred in allowing the case to proceed when his client, as a Dungarvan Town Councillor, was incapable of granting planning permission as part of his office or position.

The DPP opposed the appeal.

President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Seán Ryan, delivering the unanimous decision of the three-judge court, said after considering all the arguments advanced on the former councillor's behalf, it was satisfied to dismiss the appeal.

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