Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ex-manager at K Club told lies about threat at races, says judge

Peter Curran has lost his case against the K Club. Picture: Collins
Peter Curran has lost his case against the K Club. Picture: Collins

Tim Healy

The High Court has dismissed an action by a former manager at the K Club who claimed he had been threatened at Punchestown races seven years ago.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr ruled Peter Curran (51) had not been threatened. Mr Curran could now face a substantial legal costs bill for the 25-day hearing involving four legal teams and six senior counsel.

Mr Justice Barr also found Mr Curran had sent five bogus emails in a desperate attempt to entice a K Club superintendent, whom he alleged made the threat, into making an "inculpatory statement" which would also incriminate the K Club owner and millionaire businessman Michael Smurfit.

This, the judge said, would have ended the litigation and resulted in a "windfall of damages" to Mr Curran, from Cahirsiveen, Co Kerry.

As part of that stratagem, the judge said, Mr Curran planted a story with the gardaí about his iPad being taken from him during that period. The technical evidence, while not perfect, was strongly suggestive of Mr Curran having sent the emails.

He was satisfied Mr Curran sent the emails to Mr Byrne. He found Mr Curran had "lied continually" in relation to what he told various parties and his evidence to the court.

Mr Justice Barr said the court had to have regard to the fact that Mr Curran was capable of "engaging in deceptive and manipulative conduct to achieve his desired goals".

Mr Curran had sued his former employer, the K Club Ltd, Straffan, Co Kildare; Dr Michael Smurfit; and K Club superintendent Gerry Byrne.

Mr Curran claimed that on May 7, 2011, his way was blocked in toilets at Punchestown Races and Mr Byrne allegedly said "Dr Smurfit has not forgotten the statements about him and the call girls. Dr Smurfit knows where to find you and this is not over". All three defendants had denied all the claims.

Dismissing the action against all defendants, Mr Justice Barr was satisfied Mr Byrne did not have any interaction with Mr Curran on May 7, 2011. Insofar as there was an allegation of a physical assault, the judge said that was a lie.

By February 2012, Mr Curran's allegation had changed to include an assertion that Mr Byrne had said he was bringing a message from Mr Smurfit. This was a very significant change in his account, the judge said. "Its late insertion into the narrative is consistent with it being something deliberately added to the story between those dates so as to give Mr Curran a right of action against Mr Smurfit."

It was "equally possible" Mr Curran simply saw Mr Byrne in the toilet and saw that as an opportunity to mount a fraudulent claim, which he did by inventing the story of the threat and pretending to have an exacerbation of his pre existing psychiatric condition, the judge said. The court did not have to decide which of these "fraudulent possibilities" was the more likely, he said.

Irish Independent

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