Friday 9 December 2016

McFeely cries subterfuge over case to declare him bankrupt

Mark Hilliard and Aoife Finneran

Published 16/12/2011 | 05:00

Developer Thomas McFeely
Developer Thomas McFeely
Thomas McFeely (left), developer of Priory Hall, is issued with court summons in October
TV3 reporter Dyane Connor arriving
Theresa McGuinness, who is bringing the action against Mr McFeely

SUBTERFUGE, a court summons stashed in a newspaper and claims that a witness fled the country from mysterious threats.

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The litigation involving former Provo property developer Thomas McFeely gets more dramatic by the week.

Yesterday, as part of an attempt to have him declared bankrupt, the High Court heard about difficulties in serving him a court summons.

Theresa McGuinness, of Rush, Co Dublin, who is bringing the action herself without the aid of legal support, arrived at the Four Courts to describe how she had attempted to serve a summons to Mr McFeely but had failed.

She told Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne that she had employed the services of a company in Maynooth to serve the developer -- who is behind the now notorious Priory Hall apartment block in Dublin -- but he had thrown the envelope on the ground.

However, the man who allegedly served Mr McFeely the summons was unable to attend court yesterday.

Ms McGuinness said he could not attend because he was no longer in the jurisdiction following unspecified "threats".

"He feels that he served the summons in a proper way and he feels he cannot return to this country. I'm not saying because of this case but he says that he has been threatened," she said.

Ms McGuinness won damages of €103,000 from Mr McFeely's company, Coalport Ltd, in 2009, over its attempts to sell her a house with serious structural defects.

Costs

She claims the damages, as well as €200,000 in legal costs, have not been paid.

She is now seeking to have him declared bankrupt in the hope that she may recover some of those costs through the sale of his assets.

Yesterday, TV3 courts correspondent Dyane Connor took the stand. Stressing her impartiality as a journalist and that she had been subpoenaed to appear, she described how she had witnessed the summons being served.

The court heard that at around 2pm on October 21 last, Mr McFeely was approached by a man as he sat in a taxi outside the Four Courts.

He opened the window and was handed a copy of a newspaper which was quickly snatched away leaving a strange envelope in his hand.

Mr McFeely's counsel, Martin Hayden SC, said that the manner in which the papers were served was not appropriate and amounted to subterfuge.

However, the parties ultimately agreed that the summons could be received by Mr McFeely's solicitor in court.

The bankruptcy hearing was adjourned until January 16. Mr McFeely, who was in court during yesterday's proceedings, declined to comment.

In a separate case, he is appealing a High Court ruling last month that he breached court orders and undertakings requiring him to meet weekly targets for the completion of fire safety works at the Priory Hall complex in Donaghmede, Dublin.

Mr McFeely was handed a three-month jail sentence and a €1m fine by the High Court for contempt of court -- although he immediately appealed the decision and secured a stay of execution on that ruling.

He is seeking to have it overturned in the Supreme Court, although no date has yet been set for the hearing.

In the meantime, the Priory Hall residents face Christmas in temporary accommodation with their futures and that of their properties unresolved.

Irish Independent

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