A RETIRED company director at the centre of a landmark €4.7m sex abuse award may be suffering from dementia, the High Court has heard.
It means there are now doubts over whether Joseph Carrick's victims will be able to recover the money from him.
An application may be made to set aside the award, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne was told yesterday.
Last November, Jacqueline O'Toole, who was raped and became pregnant by Carrick when she was a schoolgirl, was awarded a record €4m in damages by a High Court jury. Her cousin and best friend, Geraldine Nolan, who was also raped by Carrick, was awarded €700,000 in damages.
Carrick (72), of Blackrock, Co Dublin, did not contest the case, discharged his lawyers and the award was made in his absence.
He engaged new lawyers, and yesterday Ms Justice Dunne was told by John Rodgers, for Carrick, that he had received instructions that there were serious questions about his mental capacity. He said he wished to file an affidavit by a psychiatrist who examined him.
He said Carrick's new solicitor had to make other inquiries, including an issue over the signing over of power of attorney some years ago. This occurred when he was suffering from cancer and there were question marks over his survival.
"His solicitor is in a difficult position where he has a client who appears to have dementia and appeared to be suffering from it at the time of the trial," said Mr Rodgers.
There was provision to set aside an award where a person has not appeared to defend the case, he said.
Rudi Newman, for the women, said he was surprised at this development because, when Carrick discharged his solicitors, there was no mention of mental capacity.
His clients had got a judgment for the total €4.7m but "no effort has been made to pay a cent of it or to engage with his side".
The court had allowed €500 a week to be paid from Carrick's frozen assets for his living expenses, yet "my clients are not getting any money", he said.
Ms Justice Dunne adjourned the matter for two weeks.