Fred Forsey case: Probe began when estranged wife contacted gardaí about payments

Fred Forsey Jr was largely unknown outside of his native county Waterford before his high-profile corruption trial.

A former Fine Gael town councillor, he was co-opted onto Dungarvan Town Council in 2003 and later became the town’s deputy mayor.

He was no longer in politics in 2012 when he was convicted of taking €80,000 in bribes in exchange for lobbying colleagues to rezone agricultural land for residential and industrial use.

Mr Forsey (49) has always maintained that he was innocent of the charges. Even as he was being jailed for six years, with the final two suspended, he protested at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court that payments he received were not bribes.

Read more: Ex-Fine Gael councillor jailed for corruption over €80k payments has conviction quashed

He insisted that sums of cash he got from a developer were loans. Mr Forsey also maintained he had lobbied to have the land rezoned in 2008 to create employment for the area.

A year after his conviction, millionaire property developer Michael Ryan was found not guilty of making corrupt payments to Mr Forsey.

Gardaí began investigating the former councillor when his estranged wife went to them about suspicious payments her husband had received.

Mr Forsey had been in a relationship with a younger woman, Karen Morrissey, and the marriage broke down after he mistakenly sent a text intended for Ms Morrissey to his 15-year-old daughter.

He moved to Australia with Ms Morrissey, but was arrested in 2009 when he returned to Ireland for a wedding.

The court would subsequently hear he lobbied fellow councillors extensively to have the lands rezoned.

A vote was later passed to rezone the lands but this was overturned by then-environment minister John Gormley.

An internal Fine Gael inquiry later cleared six councillors who backed the rezoning of any wrongdoing.

In 2016, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Mr Forsey against his conviction, but he later secured permission to bring a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

Following the decision yesterday to quash his conviction, he must now wait to see if the DPP will seek a retrial.

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