Trial told judge claimed secretary made will error
A District Court judge accused of attempting to deceive her friend out of half his estate initially claimed it was a mistake by her secretary, a court has heard.
Heather Perrin (60) is accused of tricking Thomas Davis into bequeathing half his €1 million estate to her two children while he was a client of her solicitor firm.
The trial heard that when the alleged deception came to light, Ms Perrin claimed on the phone to the alleged victim’s niece that her secretary must have made an error. There was also evidence that the judge later claimed the mistake was on the part of Mr Davis and his wife and that she had drawn up the will in line with their wishes at the time.
Ms Perrin of Lambay Court, Malahide, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to deceptively inducing Mr Davis to bequeath half his estate to Sybil and Adam Perrin at her office on Fairview Strand on January 22nd, 2009. She was made a judge in February 2009 after running a solicitor’s practice in Fairview of which Mr Davis was a long-standing client.
The trial previously heard testimony from Mr Davis, who is in his 80s, that he wished to leave the vast majority of his estate to his two nieces, who live in England. He said he intended to leave only €2,000 each to the Perrin children.
Prosecuting counsel Dominic McGinn SC earlier said there would be evidence that Ms Perrin told gardaí Mr Davis instructed her to split the estate between her children and his nieces because he was unhappy with how the nieces had “squandered” cash gifts from him in the past.
Yesterday the jury heard from Mr Davis’s two nieces, who agreed they had been given £40,000 by their uncle over the years but said they had used it to pay off a mortgage and buy a boiler. They said the rest of the money was in a savings account and their aunt and uncle were happy with how they had used it.
Mr Davis’s niece Michelle Checklin said she had given most of the £40,000 given to them to another niece, Alison Rowley, so she could pay off her mortgage. Ms Checklin said she used less than £3,000 of the gift to buy a new boiler and gas fire. She gave evidence that her uncle was “absolutely astonished” when he found out Ms Perrin’s children were among the main beneficiaries of his will.
She said when she spoke to Ms Perrin on the phone the next day, the judge asked her if there was a problem.
Ms Checklin replied: “Yes, because you put your children in my uncle and aunty’s will.”
She said Ms Perrin responded that it must have been her secretary’s mistake and she would sort it out. Ms Checklin said it was being sorted out and ended the conversation.
Joan Darling gave evidence that after the alleged deception came to light she acted as an intermediary between the Perrins and the Davises.
She told the prosecution that the accused’s husband, Albert Perrin, asked her to approach the Davises and see if they would agree to talk. She said Mr Davis refused and said it would not be appropriate.
Ms Darling added that Mr Perrin had told her that the accused made the will in line with the Davises’ wishes and that they were mistaken about their instructions at the time.
The trial continues.