18 October 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

THE trial of a former Co. Monaghan Fianna Fail senator, who faces an alleged blackmail and extortion charge, along with two other men, was transferred on Friday last from the Circuit Criminal Court in Monaghan to Carrick on Shannon Circuit Court in Co. Leitrim on November 12th next, by Judge John O’Hagan after an application by the accused’s defence counsel.

Francis O’Brien, aged 70, and a father-of–four, from Corwillan, Latton, Castleblayney, who was a member of Seanad Eireann from 1989 to 2011, and also a member of Monaghan County Council from 1979 to 2003, entered a plea of guilty to a charge of attempting to make gain by attempting to obtain €100,000 with menaces .

He was charged along with a Co. Cavan man, Michael Marron, aged 56, of Taghart North, Shercock, and Raymond McCaughey, aged 57, of Drumganus, Broomfield, Co. Monaghan, with attempting to make gain for themselves or others, by making the demand for €100,000 from a Mr. Michael Heelan at Tullyvaragh Lower, Carrickmacross, on April 27th last year.

After the retired senator entered his guilty plea in court his defence counsel, Mr. Jonathan Kilfeather S.C. (assisted by Mr. Ken Connolly B.L and Mr. Seamus Mallon, Solr., Castleblayney) made the successful application to have the case against O’Brien transferred to Carrick on Shannon.

Counsel for the prosecution, Mr. Frank Martin B.L. (instructed by Mr. Barry Healy, State Solr., Monaghan) sought the continued remand of the other two accused to the next sittings of the Circuit Criminal Court at Monaghan, in January next .

All three were granted bail, subject to compliance with a number of conditions
Later, at Friday’s Circuit Criminal Court sitting in Monaghan Judge O’Hanlon announced to prosecuting counsel Mr. Martin B.L. that it should be clarified the case of the other two men, Marron and McCaughey, originally charged along with the retired senator, would be dealt with separately as a similar case against both accused men, irrespective of the outcome of the case against Mr. O’Brien.
He also clarified that
both men were remanded to the next Circuit Criminal Court term at Monaghan on January 12th next year, while O’Brien would, as arranged earlier, be dealt with, at Carrick on Shannon on November 12th next.

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