Monday 5 December 2016

Water charges protester produced 'insufficient' evidence to support claims meter box cover was defective, judge rules

Tim Healy

Published 15/03/2016 | 17:10

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A WATER charges protester has had produced "entirely insufficient" evidence to support his claims a plastic cover over a meter box outside his home was defective, a High Court judge has ruled.

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Some 600,000 such covers have been installed by Irish Water, the court heard.

Dermot Murphy had also failed to substantiate claims of a risk of damage to himself and his family due to the alleged ease with which

the plastic cover could be removed and the meter tampered with, Ms Justice Miriam O'Regan held.

Having rejected those and other claims advanced by Mr Murphy, the judge ruled he had made out no grounds entitling him to various

permanent injunctions, including restraining Irish Water installing a water meter on or near his property.

The judge previously heard Mr Murphy dug up a water meter on the pavement outside his home at The Park, Lake Point Park, Mullingar, Co Westmeath and sent it to Irish Water with an invoice.

After the judge gave her decision, Cian Ferriter SC, for Irish Water, sought costs against Mr Murphy who said he intended to appeal.

The judge said Irish Water was entitled to its costs but she stayed the costs order pending any appeal.

In her decision, Ms Justice O'Regan said there was "uncontroverted expert evidence" before her, from an engineer who prepared a report

for Irish Water,  to the effect the covers are fit for purpose and suitable for the area outside Mr Murphy's home.

Mr Murphy had adduced no expert evidence to support his claims and relied on hearsay evidence, she said.

This evidence was "entirely insufficient" to refute the engineer's evidence, the judge held.

Mr Murphy had, by his own admission, committed a criminal offence in the removal of the water meter installed outside his home in June

2014, the judge said.

While Mr Murphy complained the plastic cover installed on the meter box outside his home was broken, a technical manager who inspected the cover found the break was caused by blunt force trauma rather than damage resulting from a vehicle crossing it, she added.

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