Judge may substitute Limerick hurler’s jail sentence with community service order

Pat Ryan with the Liam MacCarthy Cup after Limerick's 2021 All-Ireland victory.

A JUDGE has indicated he may substitute a jail sentence with a community service order in the case of three-time All-Ireland winning Limerick hurler, Pat Ryan, who was convicted of perjury earlier this year.

At Limerick Circuit Court today (Monday), the 28-year-old sportsman from Doon appealed the severity of a two-week jail sentence for perjuring himself during criminal proceedings in October 2020 when he was accused of speeding.

Mr Ryan falsely told Limerick District Court that he didn’t receive a speeding summons. Gardaí later discovered a photograph of the speeding summons sent from Mr Ryan’s mobile phone to a third party as well as text messages exchanged between the two phones.

At today’s appeal case, defence solicitor John Hebert asked Judge Tom O’Donnell to consider removing the two-week jail term imposed Judge Patricia Harney at Limerick District Court on March 28 this year.

Judge Harney told Mr Ryan he had “told a brazen lie in the face of this court, that the “whole criminal justice system is based on truth given to the courts”, and that he was “facing very very serious trouble”.

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Mr Herbert argued that Mr Ryan had been ignorant of the law and the serious consequences of convictions for offences such such as “falsehoods, telling lies, or deceit”.

He said Mr Ryan went into the October 2020 hearing “without taking any legal advice. Had he done so, he would have been apprised of all of these things, and there were ways of working around them.

Mr Hebert added that a jail sentence would have “life-changing” consequences for Mr Ryan who, at the time of committing the offence, was “an elite athlete in an elite team, a hurling team which we now know is one of the most successful hurling teams in the country”.

State Solicitor Pádraig Mawe said Gardaí detected Mr Ryan exceeding the national roads speed limit at Dooradoyle on November 14, 2018. A fixed charge penalty notice was issued and posted to Mr Ryan’s home address four days later.

“That fixed charge penalty notice remained unpaid and triggered the automatic issuing of a summons,” Mr Mawe added.

When the case came before Limerick District Court on May 28, 2019, it was struck out after the court was told the summons had not been served on Mr Ryan.

The summons was reissued by the prosecuting Garda on September 13, 2019 and the case came back before Limerick District Court Court on April 24, 2020.

It was adjourned to October 21, 2020 when Mr Ryan escaped a conviction by committing perjury, stating under oath that he had not received the fixed charge penalty notice.

Detective Garda Darren John Swan, Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI), agreed with Mr Mawe that a photograph of the original speeding summons was unearthed during another investigation when Gardaí “obtained a mobile phone”.

When they examined the phone, Gardaí discovered Mr Ryan had sent a copy of the photograph to a third party a year before the perjury case.

An “exchange or conversation of messages” was also found by Gardaí on mobile phone in which Mr Ryan had been “looking for assistance” from a third party, who was not identified in court.

Mr Ryan had one previous conviction for holding a mobile phone while driving a vehicle, but he was regarded as “generally of good character with no real previous convictions of note”, Mr Mawe added.

Appealing for leniency, Mr Herbert said when Mr Ryan committed perjury, “he had never been in a court before, the immediacy of the potential loss of his driver’s license and perhaps the loss of his job clouded his judgement”.

Judge Tom O’Donnell said: “Perjury is a very serious matter, which strikes at the very heart of the administration of justice.

“Limerick senior hurlers are regarded as role models for the generation to come and it’s disappointing that one of the team’s former All Ireland winning members was now facing a possible jail sentence”.

He said Mr Ryan had done wrong by “going into the witness box, taking up a bible, taking an oath and telling an untruth. That’s very disappointing in itself”.

Adjourning his decision to July 25, he directed that the probation service and Mr Ryan liaise with one another and if 100 hours of voluntary work could be found between this and then he would factor that in to his final judgment.

“However, I want it to be clearly understood I’m keeping my options open. I’m not formally making a community service order but I am thinking along those particular lines.

“This is the first time I have come across an offence of this nature in this court, and I sincerely hope it will be the last time,” he added