A former district court judge has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for deception.

Heather Perrin resigned from the bench after she was found guilty of inducing a client to leave half his estate to her two children when she was a solicitor.

Perrin of Lambay Court in Malahide, Dublin, had denied including her children as major beneficiaries of the estate of Thomas Davis in 2009.

However, the court was told today she now accepts the unanimous verdict of the jury.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said she had deceived Mr Davis at a stage in his life when he was dealing with the sensitive and difficult issue of his will.

It had a particular poignancy when dealing with a devoted couple like Thomas and Ada Davis. At 83 years old, Mr Davis should never have been next nor near a court, Judge Ring said.

She said Mr Davis was an impressive witness who was subjected to suggestions by the defence that his memory had failed him.

The judge said Perrin did not impede the investigation by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, but she did not make any admissions either.

She added that Perrin could not be penalised for pleading not guilty because she was entitled to do so, but nor could she be given any credit for a guilty plea.

The judge took into account a number of factors, including the position of trust she was in, the impact on the victims and on the public.

She said the act of deception by a solicitor would have a profound effect on a profession that operates primarily on trust.

Judge Ring said the deception was carried out when she knew she was to be made a judge of the District Court and the aggravating factors were her behaviour in writing letters on behalf of Mr Davis while she was a judge.

She said she had to take into account Perrin’s medical condition, but added that lots of people come before the court with a medical condition and some crimes and circumstances did not allow the court as much scope as others.

Judge Ring said it was regrettable that any man or woman aged 61 should go to jail, but she had no other option in this case.

Perrin was comforted by her husband after sentence was passed down.

Defence asks court for leniency

Earlier, Defence Counsel Patrick Gageby had asked the court to be as lenient as possible with Perrin. He said consideration had to be given to medical reports and her very substantial, significant and public fall from grace.

She would find prison more difficult than others, in view of her position, he said.

The very good picture painted by character references had to be set against a single act of dishonesty, he added.

She accepted the verdict of the jury and had resigned her position as a district court judge.

Mr Gageby described Perrin as "having pulled herself up by the bootstraps" having had initially no access to third-level education and starting her career as a secretary before qualifying as a solicitor.

He said consideration could also be given to the publicity surrounding her conviction and the fact that her professional life was in "utter ruins".

Evidence was given by Professor Damien McCormack, who said Perrin suffered from an unusual life-threatening infection following surgery for a knee replacement earlier this year.

While she was making a recovery he was still not happy about what was causing the infection, he said.

Canon David Pierpoint also gave evidence to say he had known Perrin for 20 years through the Girls' Brigade and agreed there were so many good sides to her character.

A number of other people also submitted written character references and detailed works of charity carried out by Perrin.

Minister for Justice Mr Shatter said he had been consulting the Attorney General about impeaching former judge Heather Perrin, but this was no longer necessary following her resignation.