Judge found guilty of deceiving elderly man over his will

Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 00:00

A judge convicted of deception by the Circuit Criminal Court yesterday is the first member of the judiciary in the history of the State to be convicted of a serious crime.

Judge Heather Perrin (60), Lambay Court, Malahide, Co Dublin, was found to have induced a client by deception to leave half his estate to her two children when she was working as his solicitor.

After more than 3½ hours of deliberation and seven days of hearings the jury in the case returned a unanimous verdict just after 1pm yesterday.

On bail

Judge Mary Ellen Ring released Perrin on bail and ordered her to surrender her passport at Malahide Garda station in Dublin.

She is to be sentenced next Wednesday.

Judge Ring excused the jury from service for seven years. She told them they were welcome to return to court as members of the public if they wished to be present for sentencing.

Perrin appeared shocked by the verdict and afterwards became tearful as she was comforted by her barrister and supporters.

She had denied inducing by deception. Thomas Davis, who is in his 80s, to bequeath half of his estate to her children, Sybil and Adam Perrin, at her office on Fairview Strand on January 22nd, 2009.

Mr Davis and his wife, Ada, had been friends of Perrin for many years.

In evidence, Mr Davis had spoken of trusting Perrin and knowing her two children since they were young.

In January 2009, he gave instructions to her about a new will and went to her office on January 22nd to sign it.

The will was to bequeath €2,000 each to various churches and €2,000 each to Adam and Sybil Perrin if he and his wife died.

The rest of the estate, including a house in Finglas, €750,000 from the sale of a house in Gorey, and a large sum of money on deposit with EBS, was to be divided up between his nieces.

Unsigned and undated

But the will drafted by Perrin divided the estate between Mr Davis’s nieces and her own children.

Mr Davis told the court that on the day he signed this will, it was not read to him and he was not given time to read it. He was rushed by Perrin and the copy he was given weeks later, unsigned and undated, showed his correct wishes, he said.

He also denied that Perrin’s husband, Albert, and her secretary, Pauline Ball, whose signatures were on the will as witnesses, had been present in the office when he signed it.

The false will was exposed after O’Hanrahan Quaney, the firm that took over Perrin’s business when she was appointed to the judiciary, discovered it in her papers.

Secretary’s mistake

Under questioning, Perrin initially told gardaí it was a mistake by her secretary but later said Mr Davis wanted to split up his estate because he was unhappy with how his nieces spent their money.

The defence had maintained that Mr Davis suffered from memory problems and had forgotten the instruction he had given to Perrin.

But the prosecution produced medical evidence showing Mr Davis had a good mental capacity and no memory problems.

Perrin never took the stand on her own behalf and the only witness in her defence, her former secretary, Ms Ball, said she recalled Mr Davis reading the will before he signed it.

She also said when the will was being signed, she commented: “Lucky children.”

She said Ms Davis then said: “Sure they’re nearly our children as well.”

Charges of deception relating to Ms Davis’s will were dropped because she was unable to give evidence.