A MAN against whom a landmark €4.7m damages award was made for sexual abuse of two girls is not entitled to have the award set aside, a High Court judge ruled today.
Retired company director Joseph Carrick 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 he had raped them when they were children.
Mr Carrick (72), Carysfort Woods, Blackrock, Co Dublin, was not represented during the trials claiming he was unable to pay for solicitors and did not represent himself.
He got new solicitors who asked the court to set aside the award on a number of grounds including that he suffered from cognitive impairment.
Today, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne ruled he was not entitled to have the award set aside which would mean a new trial would then have to take place.
The judge said the rules of the courts provided for setting aside judgments in certain circumstances including where a defendant was not aware the trial was taking place.
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.
She acknowleged Carrick had problems arising from an imminent hip operation but he knew the cases were listed for hearing in November and took no steps to deal with the circumstances that arose at the time.
The inherent jurisdiction of the court to set aside a final order is limited in scope and generally not available where there is another remedy available and there is the option of appeal for Mr Carrick, she said.
On the issue of Carrick's cognitive ability to understand what was going on last November, the judge said that even though he suffers from mild cognitive impairment the evidence given to the court 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 about this case 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, she said.
Having regard to all the evidence, she was not satisified, on the balance of probabilities, that he lack capacity to make the necessary decisions in relation to the November 2012 cases.
She adjourned the matter to next Tuesday to 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. The
women's lawyers said they would be asking to court to consider commiting him to prison over failure to comply with orders made by the court in relation to his assets following the decrees.
The women said afterwards they were very relieved by the judge's decision.