Sunday 28 May 2017

Dad of Rathkeale Rovers convicts still suing Bloomberg

John Kerry O'Brien Photo: Durham Police/PA Wire
John Kerry O'Brien Photo: Durham Police/PA Wire
Robbery scene at Durham University Photo: Durham Police/PA Wire
Richard Kerry O'Brien Jr Photo: Durham Police/PA Wire
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The father of two men who were convicted last week of masterminding a plot to steal rhino horns and rare Chinese artefacts worth €76m plans to continue his €18m libel action against Bloomberg news organisation..

Richard Kerry O'Brien, an antiques dealer from Limerick, claims the US news agency falsely linked him to the notorious Rathkeale Rovers and portrayed him as being the "king" of a criminal network of rhinoceros horn traffickers in an article published two years ago.

Last week, two of Richard Kerry O'Brien's sons were among four men who were found guilty of helping to plan a string of museum robberies. John Kerry O'Brien (26) and Richard Kerry O'Brien junior (31) were found guilty by a jury. Two others were also convicted, Daniel Turkey O'Brien and Michael Hegarty, who also have links to Rathkeale. The four denied involvement and will be sentenced in April.

Friends say Richard Kerry O'Brien Snr, who has never been charged with any offence, will continue with his libel action despite the conviction of his sons in the UK last week. A preliminary hearing of his case was heard in a New York court in February and a decision is now awaited on whether it will go to trial.

The trial heard that O'Brien's sons and two other men were among the ringleaders of raids on museums in Cambridge, Norwich, Glasgow and Durham, in which valuable jade pieces and a Ming Dynasty bowl worth €20m were taken.

In court papers, Richard Kerry O'Brien Snr said that the magazine article caused him "severe emotional, psychological and medical distress". He had never been involved with a "criminal clan" or network, "specifically the Rathkeale Rovers". He never "held himself out in his community as the 'king' of any group that partakes in criminal activity".

Richard Kerry O'Brien is a prominent Traveller and businessman in the Rathkeale community. He addressed a conference about the future of the Limerick town last year, urging settled and Traveller communities in Rathkeale to "pull together". The conference heard that 80pc of private property in the town was owned by Travellers and will be 100pc populated by Travellers in 10 years time because nobody else wants to live or do business there.

Mr Kerry O'Brien Snr's home was raided by the Criminal Assets Bureau three years ago. He claimed that he and his family were being harassed by gardai.

Sunday Independent

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