Tuesday 25 April 2017

Nine years on, man gets BMW back from gardaí

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys ordered gardaí to return a BMW car which was seized in July 2008 (Stock image)
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys ordered gardaí to return a BMW car which was seized in July 2008 (Stock image)
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Gardaí have been forced to return a BMW car seized from a businessman almost nine years ago.

A judge ordered the return of the vehicle and the payment of €33,600 in special damages to articulated truck and car trader Fran McGuinness (55) after he brought proceedings against the force in the High Court.

The Dublin-based businessman has claimed the seizure is just one of eight made by gardaí since 2008. He has alleged his premises near Swords has been targeted on several occasions because his brother, who he says he is estranged from, is a notorious criminal.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys ordered gardaí to return a BMW car which was seized in July 2008. Although the car has been returned, the order is being appealed for Mr McGuinness as he believes he should have received further damages. The case is one of several he has taken against the force in recent years.

In other High Court proceedings, issued in January, Mr McGuinness claimed the actions of investigating officers had left him "on the brink of both emotional and business collapse". He alleged cars and plant machinery were seized from him without due cause and that other businesses were warned against having dealings with him.

In a separate case he is seeking orders unfreezing the bank accounts of one of his businesses, Vehicle Tech Ltd, and setting aside a Criminal Assets Bureau assessment in relation to €270,000 in allegedly unpaid VAT. Despite a lengthy investigation, he has not been charged with any offence.

Mr McGuinness, of Seatown Park, Swords, Co Dublin, told the Irish Independent he believed he became the target of garda attention in 2008 due to the activities of his brother, Cyril McGuinness, who is also known as 'Dublin Jimmy'.

His brother, who lives in Co Fermanagh, has over 50 convictions, including one in Belgium for leading a gang smuggling plant machinery into Ireland.

But Mr McGuinness insisted he has been estranged from his brother for 30 years. "I am not my brother's keeper," he said.

In an affidavit, Mr McGuinness detailed eight occasions on which expensive vehicles and machinery had been seized from him over the past nine years. He alleged there was "a deliberate pattern" of seizures and said he had "no idea" where the property is.

Mr McGuinness claimed he had lost business and had to expend significant legal costs in seeking the return of the seized items and to preserve his good name. The commissioner is expected to defend the proceedings but has yet to file a responding affidavit.

Irish Independent

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