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Thursday 24 May 2018

Reality too much to bear for 'Walter Mitty character' facing 10 years in jail

Jenny Forsey left with her
daughter Amy outside
Waterford Circuit Criminal
Court
Jenny Forsey left with her daughter Amy outside Waterford Circuit Criminal Court
Karen Morrissey leaves court with Anne Forsey, mother of Fred Forsey
Fred Forsey

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

HE is a man once idolised by the three women most important women in his life -- his wife, his daughter, and his mistress.v



Fred Forsey only had one of them by his side when he trembled and sobbed loudly as the jury repeated the word guilty six times.

The 43-year-old's ex-wife, Jenny -- the star witness in the corruption case against him -- and his daughter, Amy, who showed her mother a text message meant for her dad's young lover, weren't there to hear the verdict.

Yesterday, Ms Forsey, 42, was picking up the pieces of the destruction caused by her ex-husband who left her and their three children for his mistress, Karen Morrissey, 26.

Ms Forsey, who blew the whistle on how her ex-husband took €80,000 in bribes from a wealthy developer in return for political favours, agreed she had no choice but to disclose everything about the couple's personal affairs in the witness box as Forsey had denied the corruption charges against him.

Yesterday morning, Ms Forsey told the Sunday Independent that she will not be giving interviews for her family's sake. The Dungarvan mum, who was left penniless by her former deputy mayor husband, has decided to keep a dignified silence to protect her children.

But she confirmed that she will not attend Thursday's sentencing hearing to see if Forsey is jailed. And she admitted that while the verdict is guilty, it will never be over as her ex-husband has ripped her family apart.

Fred Forsey chose a young version of his wife to have a secret relationship with. Stunning Karen Morrissey strutted up the steps of the Waterford Circuit Court by Forsey's side for the eight days of the trial.

She walked confidently but covered her eyes by wearing big sunglasses. The 26-year-old showed off a selection of stylish trenchcoats during the case, among them a sailor striped Dunnes Stores coat from their Savida range, a beige mac and a green knee-length coat. The tanned brunette with high cheek bones fiddled with her engagement ring on the first day of the trial. She later appeared without the diamond ring as it emerged in court that Forsey had shelled out €2,200 on it, after he received money from the developer in 2006.

Ms Forsey, in comparison, did not wear sunglasses and looked directly at Forsey before she gave evidence. She attended the case for the first two days and left after her testimony was heard. However, a day after Forsey called her a "liar" in the witness box, she re-appeared with the couple's eldest daughter, Amy.

Ms Forsey wore a striped mini-dress on the first day of the trial.

It was the first time she'd seen her ex-husband in years. She dressed immaculately in a denim blazer on the day she took the stand.

Locals who knew the couple when they were teenagers, said Ms Morrissey was a carbon copy of his ex-wife. It's a flashback to when Jenny was the best-looking woman in Dungarvan. Her ex-husband opted for a "younger model", one former friend of Forsey's said.

The source also revealed how Forsey caused outrage in Dungarvan when he "paraded" his mistress at an official function as deputy mayor shortly after his marriage broke down.

He was photographed publicly with Ms Morrissey by his side. "It was like Karen took up where Jenny left off, we couldn't believe the neck of him."

Forsey, who trembled uncontrollably and cried as he was led from the courtroom by his girlfriend, Ms Morrissey, was at their beach hideaway yesterday. Remarkably, the couple chose to set up home at Clonea Strand together, only around 10 minutes from Ms Forsey's home, where she lives alone with their three children on the outskirts of Dungarvan.

Forsey married his childhood sweetheart Jenny Power after she caught his eye in her school uniform.

He fancied himself as a John Travolta lookalike, and called himself Frederick.

They had a passionate and fiery relationship and the trial heard claims from Forsey that he often came home after having a few pints with his brother to see his bags packed on the front door.

Ms Forsey's instincts were proven right when her then 15-year-old daughter, Amy, was sent a text message by her dad in the autumn of 2006. It was just weeks after Forsey had brought Ms Forsey and their three children on a surprise no-expenses spared trip to Rome where they met the Pope.

Ms Forsey's world fell apart when she discovered Forsey had been living a lie -- and all the time they were struggling financially -- as he had been wining and dining his young mistress.

Ms Forsey confronted him and he promised her and the children that the affair was over, but he secretly continued the relationship with Ms Morrissey after his ex-wife left his black sacks on the doorstep.

Forsey moved into a rented house but continued his secret relationship unknown to his wife. He bought Ms Morrissey a €2,200 engagement ring around the time of her 21st birthday.

When Ms Forsey discovered what was happening, she confronted the pair at the house.

Ms Forsey admitted lunging at Ms Morrissey but said that the young woman gave as good as she got.

Forsey struggled as he tried to separate the two women who were screaming, kicking and pulling each other's hair.

Ms Forsey was hysterical and ended up under the care of a doctor after the split. She agreed 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' but said she did not go out for revenge.

Months after the split, Ms Forsey called Government TD John Deasy (FG) and told him about the money her ex-husband had received from the developer. Mr Deasy advised her to immediately contact the gardai.

Mr Deasy was the politician who initially asked Forsey to take his seat on Dungarvan Town Council in 2004. However, he also testified against Forsey in court stating that he was of the view that the developer's aim for lands outside of Dungarvan was to obtain rezoning to inflate its price, and he added that Forsey had sway despite having no vote on the county council.

Just after 3pm last Friday, Fred Forsey was convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court. His trial heard how to this day, he has not paid a cent back of the money he claimed a developer loaned to him. He received three payments of €60,000 on August 2006, €10,000 in October 2006, and €10,000 in December 2006.

Ms Forsey stayed away from the courtroom on judgement day but Ms Morrissey was by his side to hush his cries.

When the guilty verdicts were read out, it was clear that Forsey's antics had finally caught up with him but he was the most surprised person in the courtroom.

It took only two-and-a-half hours for the jury of eight men and four women to make up their minds. Their verdict was unanimous. "It'll be okay," Ms Morrissey repeatedly told her partner as she tried to calm him.

Judge Gerard Griffin remanded Forsey on bail until Thursday, when he is again due before the court for sentencing. He faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison for accepting corrupt payments as an inducement while he was a public representative.

Over his eight-day trial, Forsey admitted spending a night locked up in a cell in Tramore garda station was one of the worst experiences of his life and said it wasn't as though he had committed murder. His defence admitted he was a "Walter Mitty character who acted the eejit with money" but they said he was not on trial charged with breaking up his marriage. The jury disagreed with Forsey's defence, who said he didn't rob a bank but went to a developer out of desperation with his hat in his hand.

Forsey accepted he got the money throughout the case but denied it was a gift or bribe.

He argued he had no say in rezoning land as he was only a town councillor. However, the trial heard evidence of him lobbying other councillors to support the rezoning.

Sunday Independent

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