Wednesday 21 March 2018

Couple boarded up by council in own home win damages

Ray Managh

A couple and their four-months-old baby, who were mistakenly boarded up in their own home by council workmen, have settled damages claims totalling €76,000 for an undisclosed sum.

Tristan Ua Ceithearnaigh (46) and his partner, Elisa Udtohan (25) claimed they had been sitting in their home at 42 Eugene Street, Dublin 8, on December 14, 2010 when corrugated iron sheets were attached with six-inch nails to their front door and window.

Barrister Bernard McCabe told Judge Gerard Griffin in the Circuit Civil Court today that Tristan and Elisa, now of The Mews, Collegeland, Saggart, Co Dublin, had reached settlements in their damages claims for €38,000 each.

In Civil Bills issued by McGuinn Solicitors against Dublin City Council the couple alleged they had been resting at home after having done some shopping with their baby, Mia.

They had ignored the doorbell at their privately rented house in Eugene Street because they were not expecting anyone but believed they were under siege by criminals when they heard hammering at the door.

Tristan had dialled 999 to get the guards after shouting to the people outside that they were in the house and demanded to know what was happening.

Tristan and Elisa related how large corrugated iron sheets were nailed to the windows and door. Elisa and the baby were crying as Tristan shouted at the men after seeing six inch nails come through the door frame.  The rooms became dark.

The men hammering asked him was he a squatter and he told them it was a privately rented house.  He heard someone say: “Hold on a minute,” and they then started pulling nails out of the door frame, removing the corrugated iron.

Through a spy-hole he saw two Dublin City Council vans outside.  He opened the front door and saw workmen, who were with the vans, begin fixing corrugated iron sheets they had removed from his home to a vacant house next door.

Both Tristan and Elisa claimed they had been medically treated for emotional distress and had left No 42 shortly afterwards to find a new home. 

In a full defence to both claims Dublin City Council denied the couple’s allegations of falsely imprisoning them while they were in their home or defaming them by creating the impression they were squatters, undesireables or were being evicted.

Judge Griffin struck out both actions on foot of undisclosed settlements.

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