Ex-minister to stand trial over bogus expenses

Former Fianna Fáil junior minister Ivor Callely is to stand trial accused of making a series of bogus mobile phone expense claims when he was a member of the Seanad.

Ex-minister to stand trial over bogus  expenses

Mr Callely, aged 54, was arrested by fraud squad detectives at his office at Howth Rd, in Killester, Dublin, at 9.50am yesterday and was taken to Clontarf Garda Station, where charges were put to him before he was brought to appear at Dublin District Court.

He had previously been arrested for questioning on suspicion of breaching the Theft and Fraud Offences Act.

The former politician had been appointed to the Seanad in 2007 by the then taoiseach Bertie Ahern after he lost his Dublin North Central Dáil seat during the general election that year.

He resigned the Fianna Fáil party whip in Aug 2010 and has not been involved in politics since 2011.

Investigating gardaí sent a file to the DPP, who decided that Mr Callely should be charged over his mobile phone expense claims.

Dressed in grey trousers, black shoes, blue shirt, and navy blazer, he was taken to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin and arrived just before noon yesterday.

At 12.12pm, he walked in from the holding cells at Dublin District Court number two and sat down, legs crossed, on the defendants’ bench, without speaking.

Det Adrian Kelly of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation then told Judge Patricia McNamara that Mr Callely faced six counts under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act.

Mr Callely, who lives at St Lawrence Rd, Contarf, Dublin, did not address the court during the brief hearing and Det Garda Kelly gave Judge McNamara the details of his arrest.

Det Garda Kelly said Mr Callely made no reply when the first charge was put to him at Clontarf station, and “there was no reply to any of the charges”.

Judge McNamara noted that the charges were under Section 26 of the Theft and Fraud Offences Act.

It is alleged that in Nov 2007, Feb 2008, and from Sept-Dec 2009, Mr Callely, then a FF senator, used an invoice as a false instrument at Leinster House for receipt of expenses for handsets and equipment, under the Oireachtas members’ direct purchase mobile phone scheme.

The six charges are only differentiated from each other by the dates of the alleged offences

One reads that he used an invoice “with intention of inducing another person to accepting that it was genuine and by reason of so accepting the said instrument to do some act to make some omission or provide some service to the prejudice of that person or another”.

A conviction for this offence can result in a maximum 10-year sentence and/or a fine.

A state solicitor told Judge McNamara that the DPP has directed that Mr Callely, who has not yet indicated how he will plead, must face “trial on indictment”.

This means that his case will be transferred to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, where he could be tried before a judge and jury.

Defence solicitor Noel O’Hanrahan told the court that he understood there was no objection to bail being granted and Judge McNamara was told that no particular conditions were sought by the State, which agreed to nominal bail.

“You are satisfied with his address and that he will turn up,” Judge McNamara confirmed, before she remanded Mr Callely on bail in his own bond of €250.

It has not yet been established whether he will be looking for free legal aid but the prosecution said that if he intended to do so, he must provide a statement of means.

On that issue, Mr O’Hanrahan said: “At this point I want to take full instructions.”

The judge also agreed to a request from the defence solicitor to order gardaí to hand over copies of any video-recorded interviews conducted during the course of the investigation.

Mr Callely gazed around the courtroom from the defendant’s bench and was then ordered to appear again at the district court next Thursday, when it is exp-ected that he will be served with a book of evidence and returned for trial.

He then left the courtroom with his solicitor and went back through a door into the holding cells.

Minutes later, he emerged from the courthouse, walking behind his lawyer without making any comment, while flanked by news photographers and TV camera crews as he made his way to a waiting car.

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