Wednesday 11 December 2019

Car dealer was behind shots, threats and intimidation, court told in €4.95m case

  • Businessman whose lands are being sold by a Revenue-appointed receiver could be jailed amid gunshot claims
  • Car dealer John Alex Kane also facing allegations he was behind 'sinister' phone calls and a 'threatening' letter
  • High Court heard recent events marked a serious escalation in an alleged campaign by Mr Kane to intimidate a prospective purchaser
John Alex Kane. Photo: Collins
John Alex Kane. Photo: Collins
Seamus Kane
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A businessman whose lands are being sold by a Revenue-appointed receiver could be jailed amid claims he arranged for gunshots to be fired to intimidate a prospective purchaser.

Car dealer John Alex Kane is also facing allegations he was behind "sinister" phone calls and a "threatening" letter designed to interfere in the sale of his assets.

It is claimed he somehow managed to track down and threaten a farmer who bought some of his cattle, despite the fact elaborate measures were put in place by the Department of Agriculture to safeguard the farmer's identity.

The High Court heard recent events marked a serious escalation in an alleged campaign by Mr Kane to frustrate the work of receiver Myles Kirby.

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Mr Kirby has been attempting to sell a number of properties in Co Longford in a bid to recover at least some of a €4.95m judgment the Revenue Commissioners secured against Mr Kane a decade ago in respect of VAT from car sales.

But the receiver says his efforts have been repeatedly interfered with by a campaign which has involved acts of intimidation, criminal damage and arson.

Mr Kane has denied any involvement, but earlier this year he received a two-month suspended sentence for civil contempt after the High Court found he breached undertakings not to interfere in Mr Kirby's efforts to sell land.

Now Mr Kirby has asked High Court President Peter Kelly to lift the suspension and send Mr Kane to prison following a series of “serious” incidents in recent months.

Seamus Kane
Seamus Kane

An application has also been made to have his brother Seamus jailed for contempt.

Both men deny allegations outlined in an affidavit filed by Mr Kirby. They have both previously been sent to prison for contempt by Mr Justice Kelly.

Gary McCarthy SC, for the receiver, said matters had escalated since the suspended sentence was imposed in July.

An affidavit filed by Mr Kirby outlined how, within 90 minutes of the sentence being handed down, a shotgun was discharged a number of times in a field beside the home of a farmer who has been in talks to buy a parcel of land at Willsbrook, Co Longford.

Mr Kirby alleged this was done on Mr Kane’s behalf to “send a message” to the farmer and intimidate him. The shots were fired a week after around 100 of the farmer’s hay bales were slashed and destroyed.

Mr Kirby also detailed how a series of threatening phone calls were made to a Co Mayo farmer who bought 14 cattle that the receiver alleged were placed by Seamus Kane on the Willsbrook land. The cattle were removed in an operation supported by local gardaí and the Department of Agriculture.

Arrangements were made with the department so new registration numbers could be allocated to the cattle.

This, the receiver said, was to ensure neither John Alex nor Seamus Kane would be able to ascertain where the cattle had gone or the identity of the person who bought them.

The cattle had been in “very poor condition” and required extensive fattening before they were sold for €3,300.

Despite the elaborate efforts to safeguard the identity of the purchaser, Mr Kirby said the farmer received eight phone calls from a person calling themselves Jerome Kane, which is the name of another Kane brother.

The caller is said to have claimed they were the owner of the cattle and too little was paid for them. It is alleged the caller demanded an additional sum of €5,000 to “balance matters up”.

The affidavit said the number used to ring the farmer was that of John Alex Kane’s car sales business, Kane’s of Granard. Mr Kirby alleged the caller was John Alex Kane and not his brother Jerome.

Under oath in court, Jerome Kane said he did not make the phone calls.

According to Mr Kirby’s affidavit, the farmer received “a further sinister call” from a man from Northern Ireland, again demanding payment.

“The unidentified caller identified himself as a nasty piece of work,” the affidavit said.

It also said an offer was made last June by a forestry company to buy a parcel of land at Cranleybeg, Co Longford.

But Garda Superintendent Seamus Boyle reported to the receiver that signs had been erected on the property on July 31 in red paint, saying: “Dispute ongoing. Stay out.”

Garda enquiries found John Alex Kane had bought a tin of red paint the previous day at a hardware store in Granard, the affidavit said.

It was alleged a typed and laminated notice was also attached to the gate leading to Cranleybeg warning trespassers of a charge of “€100,000 per minute per man, woman or corporation” for any incursion. It was signed: “Seamus Kane man.”

According to the affidavit, the forestry company withdrew its offer after a director received a threatening letter at his Dublin home.

John Alex Kane, representing himself, denied the allegations, saying: “I am totally innocent and getting on with my life.”

He described the allegations as “hearsay” and a matter for gardaí to look into rather than the High Court. “Let the guards do their thing. If I am guilty of anything, let them find out,” he said.

His brother Seamus, represented by solicitor Brid Mimnagh, also denied interfering with the work of the receiver.

Mr Justice Kelly adjourned the matter, saying it would require a full oral hearing.

He also advised John Alex Kane to get legal representation. “Because if it goes against you, Mr Kane, you will be facing a two-month sentence of imprisonment,” the judge said.

Irish Independent

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