Former FG councillor gets legal aid for Supreme Court appeal

Fred Forsey Jnr was convicted of receiving corrupt payments from a property developer

 Fred Forsey Jnr, a former town councillor, who has been granted legal aid for a Supreme Court appeal of his conviction. File photograph:  Patrick Browne

Fred Forsey Jnr, a former town councillor, who has been granted legal aid for a Supreme Court appeal of his conviction. File photograph: Patrick Browne

 

A former Fine Gael councillor convicted of receiving corrupt payments from a property developer has been granted legal aid for a Supreme Court appeal.

Fred Forsey Jnr (46), of Coolagh Road, Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, had pleaded not guilty to receiving €60,000, €10,000 and €10,000 in three corrupt payments from a property developer in 2006, who had an interest in a planning permission for the development of land at Ballygagin, Co Waterford.

It was alleged he had behaved corruptly in trying to persuade officials and councillors in Waterford County Council to grant permission for the development, and when that was refused, attempting to alter the zoning of the land in the Waterford Co Development Plan.

It was also claimed he had sought to get the council he was a member of, Dungarvan UDC, to bring the lands into its control.

He was found guilty by a jury at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to six years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Judge Gerard Griffin on June 27 2012.

In July, 2016, the three-judge Court of Appeal dismissed Forsey’s appeal against conviction on all grounds.

His lawyers returned to the Court of Appeal on Friday seeking a legal aid certificate for a Supreme Court appeal. Mr Justice George Birmingham granted legal aid.

Forsey’s appeal was brought on grounds including that the judge presiding over his trial before the Circuit Court gave “a very serious misdirection” to the jury on how to deal with the presumption of corruption.

Forsey’s lawyers argued the trial judge incorrectly instructed the jury that Forsey had to discharge the reverse burden on the balance of probabilities, among other grounds.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice George Birmingham, said the court had considered all arguments advanced on the former councillors’ behalf and it was satisfied to dismiss the appeal.