FORMER mayor of St Helens John Beirne has been jailed for 16 months after trying to stand for election while disqualified.

Beirne, 59, who has previously been convicted of sexual offences, has been jailed after he changed his name in a bid to get re-elected.

In June 2017 at Liverpool Crown Court, John Beirne – a former mayor 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 to 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 as an independent councillor for Douglas ward on Wigan Borough Council in forthcoming local elections.

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.

St Helens Star:

John Beirne during his days as St Helens mayor

John Blondel received 384 votes, the third highest in the Douglas ward in the May 2019 election. The winner, Labour's Sheila Ramsdale, won the seat, with 994, more than 500 votes ahead of UKIP's second placed candidate.

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

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Beirne, of School Way, Pemberton, Wigan, was today Thursday, July 30, at Bolton Crown Court imprisoned for 16 months as per his original sentence.

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

He also stood as a general election candidate for UKIP in the St Helens South and Whiston constituency during the 2015 general election.

St Helens Star:
Beirne at a hustings event in 2015

Detective Sergeant 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.”