THREE-time All-Ireland winning Limerick hurler Pat Ryan successfully appealed a jail sentence and conviction for perjury today (Thursday), seven months after he had pleaded guilty to lying during criminal proceedings against him.
Despite admitting last March that he lied under oath before a court in October 2020, during a prosecution against him for alleged speeding, Mr Ryan left Limerick Circuit Criminal Court today with neither a conviction nor a sentence against him, after judge Tom O’Donnell allowed his appeal.
Mr Ryan (28), from Doon, County Limerick, was appealing the severity of a two-week jail sentence imposed on him by Judge Patricia Harney at Limerick District Court last March, who at the time said that Mr Ryan had told “a brazen lie”.
“You’re not getting away with it, the whole criminal justice system is based on truth given to the courts, you are facing very, very serious trouble,” Judge Harney told Ryan at the time.
When Mr Ryan was called to give evidence in the 2020 speeding case, he falsely told the court that he did not receive a summons for the alleged speeding offence.
The perjury came to light later when Gardaí, acting on a separate investigation, discovered a photograph of the speeding summons sent from Mr Ryan’s mobile phone to the phone of an unidentified third party.
Text messages about the summons had also been exchanged between both phones, the court heard.
Mr Ryan’s solicitor, John Herbert, argued at an earlier hearing of the appeal that Mr Ryan had been ignorant of the law and courts and the serious consequences of convictions for offences such as “falsehoods, telling lies, or deceit”.
Calling on the court for leniency, Mr Herbert said that a jail sentence would have “life-changing” consequences for Mr Ryan who, at the time of committing perjury, 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”.
Detective Garda John Swan, attached to the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, had given evidence previously that a photograph of the original speeding summons sent to Mr Ryan had been discovered by GNBCI officers during a separate investigation after a mobile phone belonging to an individual who was not identified in court was seized by Gardaí.
Padraig Mawe, State Solicitor for Limerick City, had previously told the court that it appeared from Garda analysis of Mr Ryan’s mobile phone that he had been “looking for assistance” from a third party in relation to the summons.
Mr Mawe told the court today that perjury was a “serious offence”, and he noted Mr Ryan had come to court with “an unblemished record”.
At an earlier hearing of Mr Ryan’s appeal last May, Judge Tom O’Donnell said perjury was an offence that “strikes at the very heart of the administration of justice”.
He said Limerick senior hurlers were “role models for the generation to come” and it had been “disappointing” that one of them was before the criminal courts.
Allowing Mr Ryan’s appeal today, Judge O’Donnell said what Mr Ryan did was “very wrong, no doubt about it”.
However, the judge said that given the “highly unusual circumstances of the case” as well as the “enormous publicity” the case had already received in the media, he had “serious concerns that the impact of a conviction of this nature would be completely disproportionate”.
“The law is one thing, and justice is another,” Judge O’Donnell said.
The judge said he had not made a formal order for Mr Ryan to participate in community service in lieu of a jail sentence, but noted that Mr Ryan had “voluntarily engaged” with the probation services and completed 100 hours of community service “with impeccable aplomb”.
Mr Ryan did not speak during today’s hearing.