Gardai told they can force way into developer's home
Published 15/04/2010 | 05:00
GARDAI can forcibly enter the luxury harbourside home of a millionaire developer after a judge warned he would not be allowed to "play cat and mouse" with the High Court over a €28m debt.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said officers can now use force if necessary to enter Greg Coughlan's home at Fastnet, Ardbrack, Kinsale, Co Cork, to arrest him over his failure to comply with orders aimed at executing a €28m judgment over unpaid property loans.
The judge was told yesterday that gardai seeking to execute the court orders had called to the house, overlooking Kinsale Harbour, some 10 times but were not admitted.
The judge said he was satisfied Mr Coughlan was evading arrest.
Detective Garda Jason Wallace told the court he believed there was someone in the detached house on occasions when he called but there had been no answer.
He described the house as new and substantial, with an indoor swimming pool, and located in a "beautiful spot".
Det Gda Wallace saw two Shih Tzu dogs in the pantry, heard the crashing of plates on another occasion and there was also evidence a room was being painted, the detective said.
His information suggested Mr Coughlan's wife may have been around recently but was not answering phone calls.
The businessman could also be in London or Portugal where relatives of his lived, the judge heard. It is understood gardai are liaising with Interpol on his whereabouts.
The judge yesterday said he would not have a defendant "thumbing his nose" at court orders. Mr Coughlan had failed to swear an affidavit of his assets as ordered by the court, he added.
The judge adjourned the matter to next week and said the order for Mr Coughlan's arrest would remain in force.
If arrested, he will be brought before the court to explain why he should not be jailed for breaching the court orders.
Mr Coughlan ran a property empire from London in the 1980s before switching the focus to Ireland during the boom.
Three years ago, the company was proposing a €1bn transformation of Cork's docklands.
Last month, the judge made an order directing gardai to bring Mr Coughlan before the court for contempt of court and directed him to supply a statement of his assets by March 22.
The proceedings are by investors who provided loans for Polish property deals and are against Mr Coughlan, Smart Telecom purchaser Brendan Murtagh, and Brian Madden, Well Road, Douglas, Cork.
The court was told Mr Coughlan was the only one of the three who failed to supply a statement of assets sought by Loparco SA, a Luxembourg-registered company through which the investors provided some €20m for the Polish deals, to be managed by the Howard Holdings property group.
Loparco is trying to execute judgment orders for €28.1m granted to it by the court last January. The three defendants have had total judgments for more than €60m entered against them in the Commercial Court. The case continues.