Former FF councillor sentenced
A former general election running mate of Brian Cowen has been given a three-year suspended sentence for stealing from the court official assigned to manage his bankruptcy.
At Mullingar Circuit Court, Judge Anthony Hunt also ordered that Gerard Killally (42), with an address at Shaen, Edenderry, should complete 240 hours community service for forging documents in an effort to hide the thefts, which occurred in 2010 and 2011.
Judge Hunt said it was important that the former cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, who was in custody for almost two weeks, had seen the inside of prison.
He had sought and held public office and because of his political background, he should have known better, Judge Hunt said.
Killally should also have known the importance of upholding the integrity of the bankruptcy process, he said, adding that he wanted the father of four to have a full insight into the consequences of what he had done.
Killally’s counsel Stephen Byrne, BL, said his client found the experience “horrible.”
Killally admitted earlier this month to stealing €18,000 worth of equipment from a shop he used to own in Rochfortbridge, Westmeath, but which became property of official assignee Christopher Lehane when Killally was declared bankrupt.
Killally also admitted forging a letter and business card which he faxed to Mr Lehane, alleging that the stolen equipment had been repossessed by the leasing company he’d bought it through.
Judge Hunt said he was concerned at the forgery of documents to throw Mr Lehane off the scent, but said Killally’s actions were not sophisticated and the forgery would have been discovered by Mr Lehane’s diligence.
“It didn’t involved hundreds of thousands of euro transported offshore,” he noted, describing the fraud as “relatively small”. He said Killally had been under genuinely severe financial stress.
He also noted that Killally had spent a month in a psychiatric hospital for severe depression before this incident happened, and said this criminal conviction, added to his fall from political and financial grace were humiliating and will have an impact on his ability to get work in the future.
The prosecution had cost taxpayer money, and hoped that the experience of custody means Killally will not offend again.
The former auctioneer and developer’s current situation is bleak and difficult, he said but noted that €18,000 compensation had been paid.
His case will attract public scrutiny, which is only correct because he sought out public office and all that goes with it, and must expect media interest now, he said, responding to claims by Killally’s counsel that he was subject to extreme media and public interest.
Judge Hunt imposed a three year sentence for the theft offences, which he suspended for three years, and Killally will complete 240 hours community service for the fraud offence.