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Thursday 18 January 2018

Forsey gave developer 'sob story' to get cash, court told

Fred Forsey Jnr at Waterford
Circuit Court yesterday
Fred Forsey Jnr at Waterford Circuit Court yesterday
Karen Morrissey

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THE former Fine Gael councillor accused of accepting corrupt payments told gardai he gave a property developer a "sob story" about separating from his wife to get another €10,000, a court heard yesterday.

Fred Forsey Jnr (43) made 48 calls to the developer on the same day his ex-wife Jenny threatened to "go to the guards" about the payments if he didn't give her back €10,000 she had loaned him.

Mr Forsey, of Coolagh Road, Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, was before Waterford Circuit Court for the fourth day of his trial yesterday.

The former Dungarvan town councillor denies receiving €60,000, €10,000 and €10,000 in three corrupt payments from a developer -- who cannot be named -- in 2006.

It is alleged the payments were made to him in return for supporting a land rezoning.

Mr Forsey's wife, Jenny, gave evidence against her ex-husband earlier this week. She has not been in court since then.

However, the woman with whom he had the extra-marital affair, Karen Morrissey, has accompanied him to court every day of the trial.

Yesterday's sitting heard evidence from Sgt Shay Keevans, who told the court how Mr Forsey repeatedly phoned the developer's mobile number on December 22, 2006. He called him 48 times and sent one text message before the developer phoned him back at 4.44pm.

When questioned by gardai, Mr Forsey admitted he paid his wife only €4,000 of the €10,000 he owed on December 22. He said he used around €3,000 "over the month or whatever" on his rent and living expenses.

When Mr Forsey was asked why he thought the developer would give him another €10,000 when he hadn't paid him back before, he said: "I think he just trusted me . . . listened to the sob story I had."

He said he told the developer he had separated from Jenny and they were going to sell the house and split the proceeds "50/50".

"I just told him I would sell the house and get the money back." He was asked by gardai if the house was on the market, and replied: "No . . . I just told him that . . . I lied to him."

Mr Forsey revealed to gardai that he signed the house over to his ex-wife shortly before making plans to go to Australia.

He explained he had family in mining in Australia but he ended up "working in a bar" because he wasn't skilled.

Sgt Keevans explained how he obtained Mr Forsey's mobile phone records as part of the probe into the alleged corrupt payments. They detailed how on August 24-25, 2006, there were four calls between Mr Forsey and the developer.

Anxious

The first payment of €60,000 was lodged to Mr Forsey's account on August 25, 2006.

There were nine calls between the two men on October 9-10. A second payment of €10,000 was made to Mr Forsey on October 10. 48 calls and one text message were logged from Mr Forsey's phone to the developer on December 22, 2006.

Sgt Keevans examined documents as part of the investigation, including print-outs of the "loan agreement" between Mr Forsey and the developer.

The court heard that one of the documents examined, purporting to be a loan agreement from August 20, 2006, showed it was created on a computer on January 9, 2007.

Another document, supposed to be from August 20, 2006, was created on June 10, 2008.

Defence counsel John Phelan argued in cross-examination that these documents could have been created earlier and then put on the computer from a memory stick.

Sgt Keevans also examined an internal memo from the developer's office, which stated that the funds "extended to Mr Forsey are not being repaid" and "are unlikely to be repaid . . . since he has left the country". The memorandum notes that the developer was anxious to avoid "negative publicity".

The trial before Judge Gerard Griffin continues on Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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