FORMER mayor of St Helens John Beirne will face a Crown Court to be sentenced after putting himself forward as a candidate for a local government election while disqualified.

Beirne, 58, appeared on Monday morning (January 27) at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court to plead guilty to attempting to stand as a candidate in last May's local elections in Wigan while being disqualified because he had a previous conviction.

Beirne, of School Way, Pemberton, Wigan also pleaded guilty to changing his name without notifying authorities, contrary to the Sexual Offences Act.

In July 2017 Beirne had received a 16-month sentence, suspended for two years, at Liverpool Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to historic sex offences with four boys aged between eight and 12 which took place between May 1975 and February 1980, when Beirne was in his late teens.

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Beirne, a former Liberal Democrat councillor in St Helens, was mayor during the year 2008 to 2009.

Prosecuting, Ben Southam, told Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court that Beirne changed his name in March 2019 and put himself forward as a local election candidate a few weeks later and was "in breach of a suspended sentence".

Mr Southam said: "Beirne is no stranger to politics, being a former Lord mayor of St Helens and has previously stood as a UKIP candidate in a national parliamentary election.

"On March 8 last year he notified the Wigan Borough Council of his intention to change his name to John Blondel.

"On March 27 he attended personally at Wigan Borough Council with a nomination paper to stand as a candidate in the local elections.

"He spoke to the officer and she recalled receiving the change of name. She was aware that John Blondel and Beirne were in effect the same person. Beirne submitted the application to stand in this election."

Mr Southam added the council officer realised that Beirne had a suspended sentence which meant he was disqualified from standing in an election for a period of five years.

"There afterwards that had become known. He (Beirne) was contacted by the local press and tried to withdraw his nomination and missed the deadline, the consequence being his name remained on the ballot paper.

"He received in excess of 350 votes in the election. Whether it influenced the outcome, it is impossible to say this. I think the Labour candidate won quite easily."

Mr Southam added: "Given Beirne's knowledge of political politics he knew he wasn't able to stand in an election because of his previous conviction.

"He changed his name in an attempt to deceive the election officer and to deceive the electorate. The leaflets that were distributed by the defendant have the name Blondel.

"This is a very deliberate attempt, this is not something that he did mistakenly. He did so quite purposefully and therefore that increases the gravity of the allegation."

St Helens Star:

Beirne appeared before Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

John Blondel received 384 votes, the third highest in the Douglas ward in May's election. The winner, Labour's Sheila Ramsdale, won the seat, with 994, more than 500 votes ahead of UKIP's second placed candidate.

Defending Beirne, Laura Baumanis said: "In the Wigan area he was known by the name John Blondel, it was the name of his former partner.

"The leaflets had his photograph on and he gave his home address. There was a lot of press reporting regarding a conviction he was given.

"It was a name he was known by in the community to increase the number of votes that he would get.

"He accepts that he shouldn't have stood because he did have a criminal conviction for which he received a suspended sentence."

Magistrates ruled that the case should be sent to a Crown Court.

Beirne was granted conditional bail and will appear for sentence at Bolton Crown Court on Monday, February 24.