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Judge Heather Perrin told gardai that solicitor who took over her practice could be behind deception allegations

THE trial of a District Court judge accused of attempting to deceive an elderly man out of half his estate has heard the accused claimed the man’s niece might be behind the allegations.

Heather Perrin (60) is accused of tricking Thomas Davis into bequeathing half his €1m estate to her two children while he was a client of her solicitors firm.

She claimed to gardai that Mr Davis had asked her to change his will so that her children would share the estate with his nieces because he was unhappy with how his nieces were spending money.

Ms Perrin said in interview that one of Mr Davis’s nieces could have been unhappy with her share of the will being “diluted”.

She also suggested that Noel O’Hanrahan, the solicitor who took over her practice when she became a judge, was behind the allegations that she deceived the Davises. Ms Perrin told gardai that Mrs Davis had claimed Mr O’Hanrahan was “a bully” who wouldn’t stop contacting them.

Ms Perrin of Lambay Court, Malahide has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to deceptively inducing Mr Davis to bequeath half of his estate to Sybil and Adam Perrin at her office on Fairview Strand on January 22, 2009.

Over the course of five garda interviews Ms Perrin appeared to give different accounts of when Mr Davis first told her he wanted to make her children large beneficiaries of his estate, which was valued at approximately €1 million.

Detective Sergeant Patrick Linehan told prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy BL that the judge was interviewed five times between October 2010 and May 2011.

A letter was also presented to the court written by Ms Perrin and addressed to the Law Society. It was found during a search of the accused’s computers.

It stated that Mr Davis originally wanted to leave the vast majority of his estate to his nieces but that when he came into sign the will on January 22, 2009 he felt uneasy about this so he decided the split the estate between the Perrin children and his nieces. The letter also stated he was not happy with how his nieces had spent money in the past.

In the first interview with gardai, Ms Perrin confirmed this version of events. When asked why Mr Davis now denied leaving half the estate to her children, she replied: “I can’t explain why he said that. They are both in their 80s and may have forgotten.”

Gardai then presented documents found in Ms Perrin’s house which were dated ten days before the final will was signed. These documents made reference to splitting the estate between the Perrin children.

Gardai asked the accused why there was a reference to the Perrin children’s share of the estate ten days before the issue was supposedly first discussed in her office on January 22.

Ms Perrin replied she couldn’t be sure when the various instructions for the will were given to her. In a later interview she said she thinks she was given the instructions about the Perrin children sometime before the day the will was signed.

Throughout her interviews Ms Perrin said she was certain she had made the will in accordance with Mr Davis’s wishes and that she read over the final document to him.

She said Mr Davis’s niece, Michelle Checklin, could have been unhappy when she discovered her share of the will was diluted and that she made her uncle make a new will.

Ms Perrin also suggested Mr O’Hanrahan could have been behind it. Mr O’Hanrahan took over Ms Perrin’s practice when she was appointed a judge in February 2009.

The trial continues before Judge Mary Ellen ring and a jury.