18 Aug 2022

Athy man awaiting trial on fraud and deception charges given short term bail over coronavirus

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A man awaiting trial on fraud and deception charges has been allowed out on short term bail after a judge described him as “a vulnerable person in an overcrowded environment”.

Michael Hennessy's trial for his part in alleged property purchases frauds was adjourned last week after a circuit court judge heard that the Covid-19 pandemic would prevent witnesses travelling from Spain.

Hennessy (63) of Coney Avenue, Coneyboro, Athy, Co Kildare was due to go on trial next month (April) at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The court heard that the alleged victims purchased property which are all based in Spain.

On Friday Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, told Judge Melanie Greally that a number of witnesses are in Spain, where the pandemic situation was “more catastrophic”. He asked for the trial date next month to be vacated.

Judge Greally told Mr Hennessy at that hearing on Friday that “there is no reality of getting the trial on because of the Covid-19 situation”.

Hennessy's case was mentioned again on Tuesday. Judge Greally admitted him into bail after hearing that his wife was attempting to sell a car to pay his surety.

She said that she was releasing Mr Hennessy from prison in the “short term” as he was “a vulnerable person in an overcrowded environment”.

Judge Greally ordered that Hennessy present investigating gardaí with all the relevant bank documentation in relation to his case and said he was to abide by a number of strict conditions.

The court heard that Mr Hennessy's father-in- law has recently passed away and Judge Greally gave him permission to attend that funeral on his release from prison.

“Any problems and he will be returning to custody and will remain there until his trial,” Judge Greally advised Hennessy, who was observing proceedings via video-link from prison. She adjourned the case to June 16 next when it is expected a trial date will be fixed.

During Friday's hearing, Ian Fitzharris BL, defending, said his client is 63 years of age and “comes within the category of people at risk” of contracting Covid-I9.

He said Mr Hennessy's family members have been unable to visit him in prison due to restrictions currently in place. Mr Fitzharris said the family could afford a bond of €500 and they have been under “severe financial difficulties” since Mr Hennessy went into custody.

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