A RETIRED company director ordered to pay a record €4.7m for the rape of two girls is facing the threat of prison amid claims that he broke court orders to disclose his assets.
The High Court has ruled that Joseph Carrick, a former choirmaster and married father of five, is not entitled to have the landmark awards set aside.
Carrick (72), of Carysfort Woods, Blackrock, Co Dublin, was ordered to pay €4m to Jacqueline O'Toole and €700,000 to her cousin Geraldine Nolan after two separate High Court juries found last November that he had raped the women when they were children.
Carrick claimed that he was unable to pay for solicitors. He was not represented during the trials and did not represent himself.
After last November's trials and jury awards, Carrick's assets were frozen by order of the High Court and he was subjected to court orders to disclose all of his financial affairs, including properties and pension entitlements.
He later asked the High Court to set the awards aside – which would mean a new trial would then have to take place – on a number of grounds, including that he did not have adequate mental capacity.
But that ground was rejected yesterday by the High Court. His lawyers sought a stay – or postponement – pending a Supreme Court appeal.
The women's lawyers sought a court order to attach and commit Carrick to prison for not complying with the court orders to disclose all of his assets.
The case will come back before the court next Tuesday when Supreme Court Judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne will hear applications from Carrick's lawyers for a stay on a number of orders against him, including the decrees for €4.7m and to hear arguments on costs.
Last night, Mrs O'Toole, who was raped and fell pregnant by Carrick when she was a schoolgirl, told the Irish Independent that she and Ms Nolan were relieved.
"It has been a long road to travel," said Mrs O'Toole, who only held her newborn daughter Edel once and has never seen her since.
"We have been through five trials and we did not think last November that we would still be here."
In her judgment, Judge Dunne said the rules of the courts provided for setting aside judgments in certain circumstances, including where a defendant was not aware that the trial was taking place.
However, this was not the situation in this case and there was a deliberate decision on Carrick's part not to attend court last November at the time his first solicitors had ceased to represent him.
"This is not a case of inadvertence, mistake or surprise," she said. Nor was Carrick unaware that the cases were listed for hearing.
The rules allowing for awards to be set aside were therefore not applicable to the facts of this case, Judge Dunne said.
The jurisdiction of the court to set aside a final order is limited in scope and generally not available where there is another remedy available. There is the option of appeal to the Supreme Court, she said.
On the issue of Carrick's mental capacity, the judge said she accepted that he suffered from mild cognitive impairment, a problem linked to vascular ischemia.
However, the evidence did not go so far as to show that he did not sufficiently understand, without legal assistance, the effect of the decisions made in the course of the litigation.
What was striking, she found, was that Carrick was able to give "clear and detailed" accounts of the facts and background of the litigation to experts who examined him for the purpose of assessing his cognitive ability.
The judge also said it was impossible to ignore the background of this case, including the civil cases and four criminal trials, which began in November 2011 and ended in July, with the last criminal trial finishing without the jury being able to reach a verdict.
There was never any suggestion during those criminal trials of Mr Carrick's fitness to plead, she said.
Having regard to all the evidence, she was not satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that he lacked capacity to make the necessary decisions in relation to the November 2012 cases.