Council engineer cleared of deception

A FORMER council engineer accused of deceiving a superior officer over an €18,920 contract was acquitted yesterday when a judge directed a jury to return a “not guilty” verdict.

Joseph Brennan, 50, of 2 Ceithre na Gaoithe, An Rinn, Co Waterford, walked free from Waterford Circuit Court on the second day of his trial after Judge Thomas Teehan decided there was insufficient evidence to allow the case proceed.

The former senior executive engineer with Waterford County Council was charged with using deception to induce Dungarvan council housing officer Joe O’Flaherty into awarding a contract to a David O’Riordan.

Mr Brennan, who was arrested in relation to the allegation in 2007, had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

His trial started on Wednesday and the prosecution had alleged that, in November 2002, he wrote a memo to Mr O’Flaherty in which he said that a contractor, Paddy Ryan, had been given the opportunity to tender for a €18,920 kerbing contract but had declined because of other work engagements.

This was deception, according to the prosecution, and was done to allow another contractor, Mr O’Riordan, to make gain by being awarded the contract. The kerbing was at a footpath between a social housing estate in Shandon, Dungarvan, and the nearby Park Hotel Roundabout.

When the trial resumed yesterday, Elaine Morgan BL, defending, applied to the judge to withdraw the case from the jury on the grounds there wasn’t enough evidence to allow a safe conviction.

Judge Teehan acceded to the application and directed the jury to find Mr Brennan not guilty.

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