Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Judge jailed over breach of trust

Former District Court judge Heather Perrin has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison

A disgraced judge has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for what has been described as one of the most serious breaches of trust ever before the courts.

Heather Perrin, who resigned from the District Court on Monday, was convicted of deception after inducing an elderly client and lifelong friend to leave half his million-euro estate to her two children.

The 61-year-old former solicitor is the first member of the judiciary to be convicted of a serious crime in the history of the state. She burst into tears when told her fate at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said the former judge had lost her profession, reputation and friendship with former client Thomas Davis. "This was a trust not just based on their client-solicitor relationship, but one built on a lifetime of shared experiences," Ms Ring said.

Perrin, of Lambay Court, Malahide, Co Dublin, was working as solicitor for 83-year-old Mr Davis at the time of the deception in January 2009. They had been close friends and Perrin represented him throughout most of her career, dating back to the early 1980s.

She had also been close friends with his wife Ada and the court heard their families regularly "holidayed and lunched together".

Perrin, dressed in black, had walked in to the court building using crutches as she recovers from knee replacement surgery. Her husband Albert broke down after embracing his wife as she was led away by prison officers.

"Heather Perrin has suffered a loss of position having resigned as a judge, she has lost her standing in the community and she has lost the friendship of Ada and Thomas Davis," the judge said, when sentencing. She said the deception was "one of the most serious breaches of trust" ever before the courts.

The judge said Mr Davis considered Perrin's adult children - Sybil and Adam - as family and had intended to leave each of them 2,000 euro in his will. A false will, which he was unaware of, was exposed after Perrin's elevation to the District Court in February 2009. Solicitors firm O'Hanrahan Quaney took over Perrin's business and discovered the will in her papers, and subsequently brought it to the attention of Mr Davis and his wife.

Perrin is now behind bars in the Dochas Centre in Dublin with some of Ireland's most infamous female inmates including the Scissor Sisters Linda and Charlotte Mulhall and Black Widow Catherine Nevin.

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