Suspended sentence for ex-Offaly councillor over bankruptcy theft
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) Shaen, Edenderry, Co Offaly, 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 a 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. He wanted the father of four to have a full insight into the consequences of what he had done.
Stephen Byrne, for Killally, 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 the 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 through which he had bought it.
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 euros transported offshore,” he noted. He described the fraud as “relatively small” and said Killally had been under genuinely severe financial stress.
Judge Hunt 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 would have an impact on his ability to get work in the future.
The prosecution had cost taxpayers money and he hoped that the experience of custody meant Killally would not offend again. The situation for the former auctioneer and developer was bleak and difficult, Judge Hunt added, but he noted that €18,000 compensation had been paid.
On claims by Mr Byrne that Killally was subject to extreme media and public interest, he said it was only correct because he had sought out public office and all that went with it and must expect media interest now.
Judge Hunt imposed a three-year sentence for the theft offences, which he suspended for three years, and Killally is to complete 240 hours of community service for the fraud offence.