Former senator Lydon discharged from corruption trial

Former senator Lydon discharged from corruption trial

Former senator and county councillor Don Lydon has been discharged from his corruption trial following legal discussions.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court were told that Mr Lydon (aged 74) is no longer on trial before them.

The case continues against former councillors Liam Cosgrave and Colm McGrath, sitting councillor Tony Fox and businessman Jim Kennedy.

The charges relate to allegations that Mr Kennedy used political lobbyist Frank Dunlop to bribe councillors to vote to rezone potentially valuable land.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring told the jury that she discharged Mr Lydon from the trial after “legal matters” arose.

“He is no longer a matter for you concern,” she added.

Lydon of Santo Antonio, Stillorgan Park Avenue had pleaded not guilty to corruptly receiving money at various locations in Dublin on dates in June 1992 and October 1997 as inducements to rezone lands in Carrickmines as industrial while he was a Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county councillor.

Mr Fox (aged 72) of Mountainview Park, Churchtown, Dublin, Mr Mc Grath (aged 56) of Swiftwood, Saggart, and Cosgrave (aged 57) of Merrion Park, Blackrock, have also denied the same offences

Mr Kennedy (aged 66) of Cormorant Way, Queens Quay, Gibraltar has pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of making corrupt payments between June 1992 and October 1997 to councillors to rezone the land.

Earlier prosecution witness and former lobbyist Frank Dunlop continued his evidence following a week-long break and admitted obscuring references to the late politician Liam Lawlor and property developer Owen O’Callaghan from his diary.

The diary had been produced to the Mahon Tribunal which was set up to investigate planning corruption.

Counsel for Mr Kennedy, Michael O’Higgins SC, put it to Mr Dunlop that because of the obscured entries, the diary has been referred to as “looking like a Jackson Pollock painting.”

Counsel explained that Pollock was an impressionist artist know for “throwing paint randomly at the canvas.”

The court heard that at the time Mr Dunlop claimed he had obscured the entries accidently by “doodling”. Counsel quoted the tribunal as calling this explanation "vague, evasive and unsatisfactory."

Mr O’Higgins told the court that some of these diary entries were uncovered following expert analysis by the FBI and its English equivalent.

Today Mr Dunlop said he obscured references to Mr O’Callaghan because they were “personal business matter” and not the business of the tribunal. He said he deleted references to Mr Lawlor because he didn’t think they were relevant.

Mr Dunlop said the entries concerning Mr O’Callaghan were in reference to promotion work Mr Dunlop was hired to carry out for Neilstown Stadium. He said there was a verbal agreement that he would get a 25 percent interest in the stadium but that “nothing ever came of it.”

However he agreed that he was paid nearly €100,000 and expenses of another €100,000 for this work.

Mr O’Higgins asked the witness why he was trying to obscure or play down his “partnership” with Mr Lawlor. He put it to him that he had a deal with Mr Lawlor to split the income from all development clients “fifty-fifty.”

Mr Dunlop denied that Mr Lawlor was his business partner but said that he has “no doubt that he thought he was”.

The witness agreed he paid Mr Lawlor large sums of money in relation to work the politician did on development projects.

Mr O’Higgins suggested that Mr Lawlor made unlawful requests for money from Mr Dunlop, “sometimes with menaces.”

Mr Dunlop replied that Mr Lawlor “always needed money” and “to put it diplomatically, he was innovative in the way he would request money.” He denied that payments of money made him a partner “in the business sense of the word.”

The trial also heard from Detective Garda Martin Harrington that Mr Dunlop was arrested and charged in November 2009 with 16 charge of corruption in relation to land at Carrickmines.

He said the charges relate to six councillors. Mr Dunlop later pleaded guilty to five charges and was imprisoned by Judge Frank O’Donnell in 2009.

Det Gda Harrington agreed that Mr Dunlop initially provided gardaí with a witness statement in March 2004 and later agreed to make a cautioned statement in relation to his own dealings in July 2005.

The trial continues before Judge Ring and a jury of seven women and four men.

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