A FORMER solicitor has been sent forward for trial accused of a €1.2m fraud in his legal practice.
He was served with a book of evidence by Detective Garda Claire O’Dwyer.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had directed trial on indictment.
Judge Colin Daly told Mr Small he was being returned for trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on 17 charges in the book of evidence.
He will face his next hearing on April 3, Judge Daly ordered.
He is accused of five counts of theft, five deception charges, five allegations of failing to keep accounting records and another two of making or using false accounting documents, in Limerick and Dublin in 2008 and 2009.
Due to complexity of the case, the DPP had been granted extra time to prepare the book of evidence.
Judge Daly told the accused, who has not yet indicated how he will plead, that he must notify the prosecution within 14 days if he intended to use an alibi in his defence.
A defence application for legal aid to include representation of senior counsel was successful.
His solicitor Cahir O’Higgins made the request citing to the seriousness of the allegations in which his client was accused of fraud of €1.2m in his solicitor’s practice.
There was also a delay issue in relation to the charges, he added.
Top criminal lawyer charged with theft and perverting the course of justice
A court heard solicitor Cahir O’Higgins (45) told gardai: “I am surprised at this allegation… I am not guilty.”
He is facing trial on the charges and the case against him was adjourned for the preparation of a book of evidence.
Judge Colin Daly remanded him on continuing bail in his absence for the preparation of a book of evidence.
Mr O’Higgins was not required to be present when his case came before Dublin District Court this morning.
With an address at Cahir O’Higgins and company, Kingsbridge House, Parkgate Street, he is charged with stealing €400 from a defendant who was before the courts on July 30, 2016.
The theft is alleged to have happened at Londis on Parkgate Street, near the Criminal Courts of Justice.
Mr O’Higgins is also charged with four counts of falsifying documents to pervert the course of justice.
Two counts are alleged to have taken place within the state on December 8, 2017 and another two at the Bridewell Garda Station on December 12 that year.
According to the charges, Mr O’Higgins produced to gardai a copy of notes purported to have been made by him on July 30, 2016, the date of the alleged theft.
Two of the charges allege that the copy of notes produced to the gardai were not made on the date purported, the other two allege that it contained information that Mr O’Higgins knew to be untrue.
It is alleged this was with intent to pervert the course of public justice, in the context of a criminal investigation in respect of an allegation of theft against him.
Detective Garda Colm Kelly told the court he arrested Mr O’Higgins at the Bridewell Garda Station for the purpose of charge at 2.28pm on April 7 last.
Between 2.51pm and 2.56pm, he was charged by Garda Sergeant Dave O’Leary, in Det Gda Kelly’s presence, Det Gda Kelly said.
He was cautioned and in reply to all the charges, Mr O’Higgins said: “I am surprised at this allegation. I am not guilty. I will answer it at the appropriate time in court.”
The Director of Public Prosecutions was directing trial on indictment on all matters, Det Gda Kelly said. This means the case will be sent forward for trial by judge and jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court when a book of evidence is ready.
Det Gda Kelly said the DPP would consent to the accused being sent forward on a signed plea of guilty should this arise.
Defence barrister Karl Monahan said there was an issue of prosecutorial delay in the case.
Judge Daly said that would be a matter for the trial.
“It’s a matter I am required to put on the record at this time,” Mr Monahan said.
Judge Daly remanded Mr O’Higgins on continuing bail in his absence to appear in court on June 16, for the service of a book of evidence.
Mr O’Higgins is managing partner of his firm which provides a full range of legal services including criminal defence and human rights law. His firm has represented clients at all levels of the criminal justice system and he has frequently featured on lists of Ireland’s top paid legal aid solicitors.