Sex offender former mayor is jailed for Wigan election fraud

A former mayor convicted of sexual offences has been jailed after changing his name in a bid to get elected onto Wigan Council.

Thursday, 30th July 2020, 2:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th July 2020, 3:39 pm
John Beirne

In June 2017 at Liverpool Crown Court, John Beirne – a former first citizen of St Helens – received a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to historic sexual offences, namely two counts of indecent assault on a boy aged eight to 10, two counts of indecent assault on a boy aged 10 to 11, indecent assault of a boy aged 11 and 12 and three counts of indecency with a child.

On Friday March 8 2019, while subject to conditions of the sex offenders’ register, Beirne requested his name on the electoral role be changed to John "Blondel".

Then on March 27 2019 he submitted an application to run for election in the Douglas Ward as an independent councillor to Wigan Borough Council in forthcoming local elections.

Beirne when he was mayor of St Helens

In the application booklet, Beirne signed his name as John Blondel, acknowledging that he was not disqualified from being a candidate – despite his previous sentencing barring him from running as a councillor.

Officials at Wigan Council conducting due diligence on candidate applications discovered John Blondel to be John Beirne and contacted police.

At no stage of his ploy had Beirne contacted police to notify officers of his name change – as he was required to do so as per the conditions of the sex offenders’ register.

In interview with police, Beirne answered ‘no comment’ to all questions posed.

Beirne, 69, of School Way, Norley was today at Bolton Crown Court imprisoned for 16 months as per his original sentence.

Dete Sgt Rob Catmore of GMP’s Wigan District said: “ “Had John Beirne continued to abide by the terms of his original sentence he could have avoided jail.

“But with only a matter of months left to serve he took the decision to change his name and attempt to re-enter politics.

“I hope today’s result sends a clear message to other offenders who think they can flout the terms of a suspended sentence.

"You might have avoided incarceration but you have still been found guilty of an offence and must abide by the clear terms and conditions imposed on you, or you will face further action.”

Beirne tried to withdraw from the poll but it was too late and his name went on the ballot paper. He lost the seat to Labour's Sheila Ramsdale but 384 people cast their vote for him