'Kenny ran at me with fists raised'
Court hears how TV star and retired solicitor fell out over strip of land
Published 09/04/2008 | 00:00
RTE star Pat Kenny ran at his neighbour "with his fists raised" as their dispute over ownership of a strip of land next to their homes intensified, the High Court was told yesterday.
The dispute erupted into physical confrontation shortly after the broadcaster voiced fears that there might be attempts to develop properties in what he called "our enclave" in Dalkey, south Co Dublin, it was claimed.
Retired solicitor Gerard Charlton (73), who says he is the owner of a 0.2 acre strip of land at the centre of the dispute, said Mr Kenny jostled and barred him from entering the property before running up some steps to bar Mr Charlton "with his fists raised" from entering the property.
'Late Late Show' host Kenny, meanwhile, claimed he was assaulted when the gate to the property was banged shut on his (Kenny's) hand after Mr Charlton gained access to the land.
The court also heard accusations yesteday that Mr Kenny (60) had made a number of 'outrageous' remarks during the confrontation.
The claims came in the opening address on the first day of the hearing of the dispute which is expected to last four weeks.
Mr Charlton and his wife Maeve claim they own the property, valued on the market at between €1m and €2m -- and more if acquired by Mr Kenny, whose home runs the length of the site.
Mr Kenny and his wife Kathy, who were in court yesterday, have counter-claimed and say they are the owners by virtue of adverse possession -- or squatters' rights -- which they obtained between the period 1991 and 2003. They claim it is part of their garden, which is denied by the Charltons.
The court heard yesterday that the Charltons will say Mr Kenny repeatedly asked them over the years to sell Gorse Hill to him, to such an extent that it became "a bit of a joke".
Opening the case yesterday, Eoghan Fitzsimons, for the Charltons, said the court would hear evidence that the Charltons bought their home, Maple Tree House, in 1971 and as part of that purchase acquired Gorse Hill.
The Kennys bought an adjoining property called the Anchorage in 1988 and later built a new house (also called Anchorage) on part of the site.
Mr Fitzsimons told the court the Kennys and the Charltons became very good neighbours getting on "like a house on fire".
The Kenny and Charlton children also got on well together.
Mr Fitzsimons said the events which led up to the dispute began in February 2006 when Mr Kenny and Mr Charlton had a discussion about a bulge which had appeared in the wall between Gorse Hill and the Kenny property. Mr Charlton offered to get his gardener to take a look at it and to pay half the repair costs.
Mr Kenny had previously installed an electronic pedestrian gate to control access to Gorse Hill and Mr Charlton asked for the code but was never given it and his (Charlton's) apprehensions began to grow, Mr Fitzsimons said.
Around this time, one of the other properties adjoining Gorse Hill, called 'Yonder', was due to go on the market and Mr Kenny expressed concerns to Mr Charlton that it might be bought by a developer.
Three weeks later, in July 2006, still not having got the code, Mr Charlton wrote out a letter in which he asked for the code number again. When he arrived at the Kennys to deliver it, the couple were there and a discussion took place in which Mr Kenny asked what was Charlton's "agenda" in relation to Gorse Hill.
Mr Charlton handed the letter to Mr Kenny and then decided to leave.
Outside, they continued talking and Mr Charlton made his way towards the steps up to Gorse Hill -- at which point, the court would be told, Mr Kenny jostled Mr Charlton.
The court would hear Mr Kenny ran up the steps to bar Mr Charlton "with his fists raised" telling him he was not going in. Mr Charlton got through the gate anyway and Mrs Kenny bolted the gate while Mr Kenny said he was calling the gardai. There would be an allegation Mr Charlton had closed the gate on Mr Kenny's hand.
It was during this confrontation that certain "outrageous comments" were made by Mr Kenny, Mr Fitzsimons said.
The hearing continues.