Monday 25 September 2017

'Chainsaw wielded' in stand-off over unpaid rent to pub landlord

John G Larkin and his wife Honey leaving Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court yesterday
John G Larkin and his wife Honey leaving Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court yesterday
The Millview Bar and Restaurant in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, the property at the centre of the court case

Greg Harkin

A CHAINSAW was produced and stand-offs ensued when a businessman and the tenant of the bar he owned fell out over unpaid rents, a court has heard.

Judge John O'Hagan was told at Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court that pub owner John G Larkin was owed €150,000 in unpaid rents.

This was disputed by entrepreneur David Mackey, who said the outstanding rent was around a third of that figure.

However, Mr Mackey yesterday withdrew his bid to keep the tenancy of the Millivew Bar, based at Newmills, near Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Mr Larkin had earlier told the court he had leased the bar to Mr Mackey in 2006, and that the agreement had been amicable. However, he had not received any rent payments since January 2012.

Mr Larkin told Letterkenny Circuit Court that he could not trust Mr Mackey any more. He had received numerous cheques from Mr Mackey but claimed a number of them bounced.

The premises had been fitted with 10 bedrooms for a bed and breakfast, but Mr Mackey asked Mr Larkin if he could open an upstairs restaurant instead.

The landlord agreed and fitted out a new restaurant called Flavours, and agreed to give him a year's free rent to see if the business took off. In December 2010, the restaurant was destroyed by flood damage.

Mr Larkin told the court he was never reimbursed as Mr Mackey had never paid the insurance premium on the premises, as had been agreed.

POSSESSION

On March 21, 2012, Mr Larkin went to change the locks on the premises. He and his security men entered the building at 8.05am and took possession.

Mr Larkin phoned gardai. They arrived and he told them he had taken possession and there was no breach of peace.

However, he said that, throughout the day, a large crowd of more than 30 people gathered. A number of people, including Mr Mackey, tried to break their way into the back door and Mr Larkin said he was injured with a crowbar.

"A chainsaw was brandished at one stage," he said, adding his wife Honey began to cry and he decided to leave the building.

Judge John O'Hagan said he appreciated there was a lot of emotion in the case but that there was only one law on it.

Mr Mackey's barrister, Seamus Breen, asked for a short recess, after which he said his client was withdrawing from the proceedings, but asked for 28 days to leave the premises.

Mr Larkin's barrister, Conal Kelly, said his client wanted Mr Mackey out immediately.

Judge O'Hagan said he would give Mr Mackey seven days to leave the premises. He also warned Mr Mackey that if he caused any damage to the premises he would face contempt of court and could go to prison.

Irish Independent

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