Callely to stand trial over bogus phone expenses court hears
Claims were submitted over a number of years under an Oireachtas scheme
Former Junior Minister and Fianna Fáil TD Ivor Callely leaving court today after appearing in connection with alleged fraud offenses. Photograph: Collins Courts.
FORMER Fianna Fail junior minister Ivor Callely is to stand trial accused ofmaking a series of bogus mobile phone expense claims when he was a member of the Seanad.
Mr Callely (54) was arrested by fraud squad detectives at his office at Howth Road, in Killester, north Dublin at 9.50 am this morning and was taken to Clontarf Garda Stationwhere charges were put to him before he was brought to appear at Dublin District Court.
He had previously been arrested for questioning on suspicion of breaching the Theft and Fraud Offences Act. Investigating gardai sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who decided that Mr Callely should be charged over his mobile phone expense claims.
He was taken to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin and arrived just before midday. At 12.12pm, he walked in from the holding cells at Dublin District Court number two and sat down on the defendants’ bench without speaking.
Detective Adrian Kelly of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation then told Judge Patricia McNamara that Mr Callely faced six counts under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act.
Mr Callely, who lives at St Lawrence Road, Contarf, Dublin did not address the court during the brief hearing and Det-Gda Kelly gave Judge McNamara the details of his arrest.
Det-Gda Kelly said Mr Callely made no reply when the first charge was put to him at Clontarf Garda station. The fraud squad officer then added: “There was no reply to any of the charges.”
Judge McNamara noted that the charges were under Section 26 of the Theft and Fraud Offences Act and looked through them before saying “they are exactly the same right.”
It is alleged that in November 2007, February 2008 and from September to December 2009, Mr Callely, then a FF senator, used an invoice as a false instrument at Leinster House for receipt of expenses for handsets and equipment, under the Oireachtas members direct purchase mobile phone scheme.
The six charges are only differentiated from each other by the dates of the alleged offences.
A conviction for these offences can result in a maximum 10-year sentence and/or a fine.
A State solicitor told Judge McNamara that the DPP has directed that Mr Callely, who has not yet indicated how he will plead, must face “trial on indictment” — this means his case will be transferred to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he could be tried before a judge and jury.
Defence solicitor Noel O’Hanrahan told the court that he understood that there was no objection to bail being grantedand Judge McNamara was told that no particular conditions were sought by the State which agreed to nominal bail.
“You are satisfied with his address and that he will turn up,” Judge McNamara confirmed before she remanded Mr Callely on bail in his own bond of €250.
It has not yet been established whether he will be looking for free legal aid but the prosecution said that if he intended to do so he must provide a statement of means. On that issue, Mr O’Hanrahan said: “At this point I want to take full instructions.”
The judge also agreed to a request from the defence solicitor to order gardai to hand over copies of any video recorded interviews conducted during the course of the investigation.
Mr Callely was then ordered to appear again at the district court next Thursdaywhen it is expected that he will be served with a book of evidence and returned for trial.
He then left the courtroom with his solicitor and went back through a door into the holding cells. Minutes later, he emerged from the courthouse, walking behind his lawyer without making any comment, whileflanked by news photographers and TV camera crews as he made his way to an awaiting car.