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Friday 26 April 2019

Farmer jailed for third time over refusal to remove livestock from land

Eugene Costello, of Coolfree, Taughmaconnell, Balinasloe, Co. Roscommon, leaving court after the hearing.
Eugene Costello, of Coolfree, Taughmaconnell, Balinasloe, Co. Roscommon, leaving court after the hearing.

Tim Healy

A farmer has been jailed for a third time for being in contempt of a High Court order to remove livestock from his lands which are up for sale.  

Mr Justice Michael Twomey jailed Eugene Costello for three weeks arising out of his failure to remove all livestock cattle from 90 acres of farmland at Coolfree, Taughmaconnell, Ballinasloe, Co Roscommon.

Carlisle Mortgages Ltd brought proceedings against Mr Costello claiming he was trying to obstruct the sale of the land, which has been in Mr Costello's family for generations, by placing his cattle on it.  

Carlisle wants to sell the lands because it claims 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 for the loan.

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

In a long-running battle, Mr Costello who repaid some €91,000 to the lender, has raised issues about the loan and has claimed it was fraudulent, which Carlisle denies.

The case last came before the Judge in August when he placed a stay on the three-week committal order sought by Carlise for Mr Costello's ongoing failure to comply with court orders made in 2017.

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Mr Justice Twomey had adjourned the case to allow Mr Costello time to remove the cattle from the lands by August 25 last. 

On Monday, Jarlath Ryan Bl, for Carlisle, told the judge there was "clear evidence" an "unrepentant"  Mr Costello was in "brazen breach of court orders and undertaking previously given to the court." 

Counsel said his cattle were not removed by August 25. 

Counsel said the sheep and horses that belonged to Mr Costello's relatives were also found to be on the land since the matter was last before the court in August.

Counsel said that his client's agent had inspected and photographed the land on Monday morning and there was still livestock on the property. 

Mr Costello, counsel said, had lied to the court, and at no stage had complied with undertakings.

Mr Costello, represented by solicitor Robert Dore, accepted he had not complied with the undertakings given to the court last August.

Mr Dore said that all of the cattle had been removed by the end of August. 

Sheep and horses belonging to Mr Costello's relatives, who Mr Costello said were not aware of the court orders, have been removed. 

However, Mr Dore said it is his client's case that the lands and the animals in the pictures taken by Carlisle and presented to the court were not Mr Costello's and asked the court to continue the stay on the committal order and that the situation could be monitored. 

Mr Dore said he had very recently come into the matter and asked the court to continue to stay.

Mr Justice Twomey said was not prepared to continue the stay on the three-week sentence imposed last August.
The judge said he welcomed Mr Dore's involvement in the case, which he said would hopefully prevent Mr Costello being sent to prison for the fourth time.

The order committing Mr Costello to prison was forwarded to An Garda Siochana who will then act on it. 

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 July Carlisle brought fresh attachment and committal proceedings claiming Mr Costello had again put his cattle on the lands.

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