Secretary denies being told what to say

Sat, Nov 17, 2012, 00:00

The former secretary of a District Court judge accused of attempting to deceive her friend out of half his estate has denied being told what to say by the accused.

Heather Perrin (60) is accused of tricking Thomas Davis into bequeathing half of his €1 million estate to her two children while he was a client of her solicitors firm. Evidence has finished in the trial and the jury will hear closing speeches on Monday before Judge Mary Ellen Ring.

Yesterday Judge Perrin’s defence team called Pauline Ball as a witness. She worked as a legal secretary for Judge Perrin for eight years and was described as a “loyal employee”.

Ms Ball insisted Judge Perrin did read over the will to Mr Davis before he signed it, including the part bequeathing half his estate to her children. She said she had “absolutely no doubt” that all the will was read out.

Mr Davis previously gave evidence that the will was never read over to him and that he was unaware the Perrin children were such large beneficiaries until almost a year later, when the alleged deception came to light. He also said he did not think Ms Ball was in the room at the time.

Judge Perrin, Lambay Court, Malahide, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to deceptively inducing Mr Davis to bequeath half of his estate to Sybil and Adam Perrin at her office on Fairview Strand on January 22th , 2009.

Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, asked Ms Ball about her two Garda interviews which were a year apart. In the first interview, she said she drafted “the bones” of Mr Davis’s will in February 2009. The court had heard previously the will was signed before this, on January 22th, 2009.

Memory improving

In Ms Ball’s second interview, she said she drafted the document “a few weeks” before it was signed. Mr McGinn asked her how her memory of the events seemed to be improving over time and suggested it was because “Ms Perrin told you what to say and you’ve learned your story better”.

She denied this.

Ms Ball agreed that after gardaí contacted her about the allegations, she went to see Judge Perrin’s solicitor, Seán Sexton. She initially denied that Judge Perrin had advised her to speak to Mr Sexton but, after further questioning, agreed it was her suggestion. Ms Ball said she spoke to Mr Sexton because she wanted to have someone with her when she spoke to gardaí because of the accused’s position as a judge. She said she was joined in her Garda interview by another solicitor who was her then employer.

The witness told the jury she was not surprised when she learned Mr Davis had made the Perrin children major beneficiaries because his wife Ada Davis “just adored those children”. Ms Ball said that when the will was being signed, she commented: “Lucky children”. She said Mrs Davis then said: “Sure they’re nearly our children as well.”

Ms Ball agreed with Mr McGinn that the will required two independent signatures to be valid but that she was the only one there eligible to sign it.

She said she later got the accused’s husband, Mr Perrin, to sign it because he happened to be around the office. She said that when he signed it he did not know what was in the will.