Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Farmer facing third spell in jail over failure to remove cattle from land up for sale

Stock photo
Stock photo

Aodhan O Faolain and Ray Managh

A High Court Judge has warned a West of Ireland farmer that he will be jailed for a third time for contempt unless he removes his cattle from lands that are up for sale. 

Mr Justice Michael Twomey found Mr Eugene Costello that he will be jailed for three weeks due to his ongoing failure to remove cattle from 90 acres of farmland at Coolfree, Taughmaconnell, Ballinasloe, Co Roscommon.

However, the Judge placed a stay on the committal order and adjourned the case to October to allow Mr Costello time to remove the cattle from the lands in the next 24 hours.

Carlisle Mortgages Ltd brought proceedings against the farmer claiming he was trying to obstruct the sale of the land by placing his cattle on it.  

Carlisle wants to sell the lands because Mr Costello has failed to repay monies he borrowed from it in 2004 when Mr Costello was advanced €440,000 by Carlisle.

The land was put up as security, and €91,000 was repaid by Mr Costello.

Carlisle, which obtained a possession order in respect of the property in 2006, claims some €1.4m remains outstanding. 

In a long-running battle, Mr Costello has raised issues about the loan and has claimed it was fraudulent, which Carlisle denies.

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In 2014 Mr Costello was jailed after a High Court judge found he had breached undertakings previously given to remove his livestock. He was released some days later after he purged his contempt.

Carlisle also obtained an injunction against Mr Costello in 2017 requiring him to remove the animals from the lands. He failed to comply with that order and last January was again jailed for a week for contempt.

Last month Carlisle brought fresh proceedings claiming Mr Costello had again put his cattle on the lands.

At the High Court on Thursday Mr Justice Twomey warned Mr Costello that he again faced been jailed for being in contempt of court, and gave him until Friday to remove the animals.

On Friday afternoon Carlisle's counsel Jarlath Ryan Bl told the judge that cattle remained on the lands.

Mr Costello was once again in "flagrant breach" of court orders, which counsel said was a "very serious matter" counsel said.

Mr Costello said he needed time before he could take all his cattle off the lands, which he says have been in his family for several generations.

Mr Costello said he required approval from the Department of Agriculture before he could remove his cattle because of an outbreak of TB in a neighbour's heard. 

He said he had got approval from the department on Friday, but the cattle remained on the land.

He said it was "very difficult" to move them in such a short period of time and added that he had made arrangements to move the cattle and sell them at a local mart on Saturday.

In reply, Counsel said Mr Costello had no evidence to back up his reasons for not complying with the orders and said Mr Costello had been "talking out of both sides of his mouth."

In his ruling, Mr Justice Twomey noted Mr Costello's previous failure to comply with orders and his committals to prison.

The Judge said that he was again in contempt of court, and was committing him to prison for a period of three weeks.

The Judge said he was placing a stay on this order until early October to see if the cattle were removed from the land in the next 24 hours.

The Judge who said the matter would be reviewed in October also told Mr Costello that he should bring an overnight bag with him when the matter returns before the court.

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