Wednesday 18 October 2017

Revealed: Contents of Console chief Paul Kelly's secret storage unit

Stash of charity's files, computer and cheques found in storage unit

Documents are removed from a storage unit in Naas on foot of a court order. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Documents are removed from a storage unit in Naas on foot of a court order. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Tim Healy and Eilish O'Regan

A secret storage unit rented by disgraced former Console chief executive Paul Kelly has revealed a stash of cheque books, boxes of company documents, a computer and sets of keys.

The crammed unit was secured without permission by Mr Kelly last week as the cover was blown on his lavish spending at the suicide bereavement charity.

David Hall, the new Console chief executive, takes a photo of the contents of the unit. Photo: Collins
David Hall, the new Console chief executive, takes a photo of the contents of the unit. Photo: Collins

The hoard contains at least 20 boxes of company files, office records and mounds of official papers.

The locks of the unit in Naas, Co Kildare, had to be broken yesterday afternoon in yet another dramatic twist to the scandal.

Earlier, Console's interim chief executive, David Hall, had to secure permission from the High Court to breaks the locks after a whistleblower informed him of Mr Kelly's latest moves.

He is expected to reveal the full contents of the discovered documents at another hearing into the case this morning.

It follows more than a week of staggering revelations about Mr Kelly's extravagant spending of charity funds from public donations and State bodies, including the HSE.

Read more: Interim CEO of Console gets permission to break lock on storage unit 'rented by Paul Kelly'

Read more: #HaveYourSay: Have recent revelations put you off donating to charities?

Health Minister Simon Harris is to brief the Cabinet on the revelations today.

A photo of the storage unit in Naas, Kildare. Photo: Michael Donnelly
A photo of the storage unit in Naas, Kildare. Photo: Michael Donnelly

Mr Hall and a team of staff seized the contents of the storage unit at Remedy Self Storage, Tougher Business Park, in Naas yesterday afternoon.

Earlier, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said public reporting of the order should be kept under wraps until 3.30pm yesterday.

This allowed Mr Hall an opportunity to travel to the unit and to notify gardaí.

Martin Hayden SC, for Console, said there was an urgency to the application because Mr Hall believed the charity is "still in serious and exceptional danger".

The existence of the unit came to light following a call to Mr Hall from a whistleblower who recognised Mr Kelly and his wife Patricia as they packed it with a hoard of items last Tuesday.

In his affidavit, Mr Hall revealed to the court how he received the call on Friday following an interview he gave on RTÉ's 'Joe Duffy Show' "from a person saying they had important information".

He was told that on June 28 last, Paul Kelly and his wife Patricia were seen at the self-storage unit.

Mr Hall made enquires and confirmed that, on June 28, Mr Kelly had rented a unit there and had paid cash for it. He said he was unaware if the cash was withdrawn from Console's accounts or credit cards.

He was informed that Mr Kelly made one delivery to the unit on June 28, driving an Audi Q5, while he and his wife made a second delivery the same day, using a Mercedes vehicle.

Paul Kelly, Console founder. Pic Collins Photos
Paul Kelly, Console founder. Pic Collins Photos

Read more: Former Console CEO Paul Kelly and wife relinquish company cars and credit cards after 10 days of turmoil over finances

Mr Hall said he was informed by a source that Ms Kelly was at the door of the container unit while Mr Kelly appeared to be inside.

Mr Hall said that contrary to last Thursday's court order preventing the Kellys accessing Console bank and other accounts, and ordering the return of property, he had not been provided with any documentation about the storage unit or its contents.

He did not know what documents, property or other monies were in the unit and he believed both the company premises, records and documents are still accessible to Mr Kelly, his wife and to Mr Kelly's sister, Joan McKenna.

Meanwhile, an earlier hearing was told that Ms McKenna is claiming she was never a director of Console.

Jim Bridgeman BL, for Ms McKenna, asked the court for more time to file an affidavit.

This was in response to last Thursday's order preventing her and her co-defendants, the Kellys, from accessing Console's finances.

Mr Bridgeman said the order required his client to deliver a replying affidavit to the proceedings yesterday evening. He asked for more time and for the case to be put back. He said his client was prepared to give certain undertakings and she was "never a director" of the Console company.

Mr Justice Gilligan said he was not prepared to break up the case to have two of the defendants (Mr and Ms Kelly) dealt with on one day and the third (Ms McKenna) on another day.

Read more: Console chief's spend set to top €500,000 as fresh audits due today

He said there was no reason the affidavit could not be ready by 9.30am today. If not, he would review the matter then.

Meanwhile, Mr Harris and Minister of State Helen McEntee met with the HSE yesterday.

Mr Harris will brief the Cabinet on Console today and said his priority is to ensure the charity's helpline continues.

The HSE is to appear before the Public Accounts Committee next week to be quizzed.

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