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Thursday 19 October 2017

Callely jailed for five months for phone fraud

Ivor Callely. Photo: Courtpix
Ivor Callely. Photo: Courtpix

FORMER junior minister Ivor Callely has been jailed for five months for fraudulently claiming mobile phone expenses at Leinster House while he was a senator.

Callely (56) was sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this morning.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said Callely, in falsely claiming more than €4,000 in expenses, had not only broken the law, but had breached the trust placed in him as a public representative.

He fraudulently claimed a total of €4,207 using six bogus invoices.

Callely, wearing a dark blue-grey suit, white shirt and green tie, showed no emotion as Judge Ring passed sentence.

Murmer

During the hearing, he appeared to murmur under his breath.

Callely, who was a member of Fianna Fail, served as Minister of State in the health and transport departments between 2002 and 2005. He was appointed to the Seanad by Bertie Ahern in 2007 where he remained until 2011.

The accused, of St Lawrence's Road, Clontarf, pleaded guilty to four counts of using invoices believing them to be false instruments between November 2007 and December 2009 at Leinster House while he was a member of the Seanad.

He used the fake invoices to claim expenses for handsets and equipment, under the Oireachtas Members Direct Purchase Mobile Phone Scheme.

The judge noted that Callely had "personal, financial and political difficulties" and she said that he was in the low risk category of re-offending.

She noted that politicians were "not expected to be superhuman" and were allowed to get it wrong from time to time.

She said, however, that this was "not a case of a simple mistake" and Callely had submitted false invoices.

Some "considerable effort" was put into creating them, although Callely was only charged with using the invoices.

The judge said she could not overlook the fact that blank documents relating to the invoices were found in Callely's office.

Judge Ring said she took into account the "significant breach of trust" involved.

"In this case, no explanation has been advanced as to why the claims were made in the way that they were except for an excuse of entitlement to the monies," she said.

The first admission of any knowledge of what he had done was on his entering a plea last March.

Custodial

She said it appeared to her a custodial sentence was required in the case, and in the public interest. She imposed concurrent five-month sentences on each of the four counts.

Before the judge's decision, Michael O'Higgins SC, for Callely told Judge Ring the accused was remorseful for what happened.

Earlier, the court heard Callely used invoices from defunct businesses to claim phone expenses under an Oireachtas Scheme, which allows members to claim €750 every 18 months.

The fraud emerged after a journalist made a Freedom of Information request, prompting Callely to withdraw claims and repay the money.

hnews@herald.ie

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