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Former Donegal court clerk cleared of falsifying documents

Letterkenny Courthouse.

Letterkenny Courthouse.

A FORMER court clerk has been cleared of falsifying two documents presented in a civil action to the High Court in Dublin.

Ciaran Waldron, Riverview, Buncrana, (59), had pleaded ‘not guilty’ before a jury at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

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The court was told that Mr Waldron was accused of putting the signature of a peace commissioner on a document on November 9, 2007 in judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

He was also accused of repeating this in a document presented to the High Court on October 28, 2008.

Eoin Keane, SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the jury the documents arose out of family law proceedings against his estranged wife Christine O’Kane.

He said it was the prosecution case that the documents were falsified out of Mr Waldron’s judicial review of a district court ruling in the civil case.

Mr Keane alleged that Mr Waldron had sworn affidavits which were in order to have the district court orders quashed “in circumstances where a peace commissioner did not sign these affidavits at all”.

Ms O’Kane, said Mr Keane, had the defended the proceedings and spent money defending the proceedings in a case in which documents were false.

The case was referred to gardai by Mr Justice McGovern who had heard the case in 2008. High Court registrar Angela Denning told Judge John O’Hagan that Mr Justice McGovern had made the ruling after signatures of peace commissioner Stanley Morrow, kept in the Four Courts, were compared to those on affidavits submitted by Mr Waldron.

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The peace commissioner, Stanley Morrow, has since died. Det Gda Bernard Mullins in evidence said that Mr Waldron had admitted in an interview that the peace commissioner was not present when the second affidavit was sworn.

During that interview Mr Waldron had said that the practice at the time in Buncrana was for Mr Morrow to sign blank documents because he was difficult to get hold of.

Mr Waldron had also told Det Gda Mullins that what happened “may not have been done in the proper manner but this was the practice which prevailed at the time.”

Det Gda John Sweetman, a garda hand-writing expert, told the jury of four women and six men that it was his opinion that the signatures on the affidavits were not those of Mr Morrow but he could not say who had signed them.

Peter Nolan, barrister for Mr Waldron, applied for the case to be thrown out on the grounds the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence for the case to proceed.

He argued that there was no evidence, in the legislation under which Mr Waldron had been charged, proving that he had prejudiced Ms O’Kane.
Judge John O’Hagan told the jury that based on the evidence presented in the case he believed it was “unsafe” to let the case go ahead.

He directed the jury to find Mr Waldron ‘not guilty’ on both counts.

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