Builder ordered to pay worker's widow €70,000
A company director, whose construction firm pocketed pension contributions deducted from a manual worker's wages, has been ordered to pay the former employee's widow almost €70,000.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane, warned in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that the courts took a very dim view of practices where deductions were withheld from pension funds.
She ordered Co Carlow builder Desmond Murphy, a director of collapsed Recruit and Construct Ltd, Portello Bridge, Rathmines, Dublin, to pay out €69,800 to mother-of-two Paula Addison on foot of a determination of the Pensions Ombudsman.
Barrister Paul Fogarty said Mrs Addison's husband, Niall, of Griffeen Glen Way, Griffeen Valley, Lucan, Co Dublin, an employee of Mr Murphy's company, died on March 25, 2008, in an accident unrelated to his job.
Subsequently Mrs Addison's solicitor discovered her late husband had unlawfully not been registered by the company with the Construction Workers' Pension Scheme although contributions had been deducted weekly from his wages.
Mr Fogarty said that as a result no death benefit was payable from the scheme as would have been expected. Mrs Addison had complained to the Pensions Ombudsman, who found Mr Murphy, of Ballinree, Borris, Co Carlow, personally liable for payment of the death benefit of €69,800.
Mr Murphy, who did not appear in court yesterday, had failed to appeal the decision within a permitted period of 21 days and payment of the benefit was still outstanding.
He was represented in court yesterday by his daughter Sandra and son Des, who told the court his father was ill and unable to pay a solicitor.
Des Murphy was refused an adjournment, which he told the judge was sought to facilitate a possible appeal against the ombudsman's decision.
He said that an application for assistance was before the Legal Aid Board. The court heard that it was compulsory for all employers in the construction industry to provide pension and mortality benefit for all manual workers.
An employer who failed to register a qualifying employee was in breach of the scheme and fully liable for the payment of all benefits due.
Pensions Ombudsman Paul Kenny found the contributions had been deducted and not remitted with the knowledge and agreement of Desmond Murphy, whom he held personally liable for all of the €69,800 death benefit.
The judge yesterday directed that Mr Murphy fulfil the determination of the ombudsman in paying the money to Mrs Addison.