Wednesday 22 November 2017

Farmer found in contempt of court loses legal challenge aimed at securing early release

Judge's gavel
Judge's gavel

A FARMER jailed for 100 days after being found in contempt of court has lost a legal challenge aimed at securing his early release from prison.

The action was brought Paul O'Shea who last July was jailed after he failed to comply with High Court orders to hand over vacant possession of farm buildings on his property to a bank appointed receiver.

Mr O'Shea's lawyers argued his rights were being breached by one of the Irish prison rules because it (rule 59) precludes anyone serving a sentence for contempt of court from getting remission.

The State had opposed the action.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott dismissed the application and rejected the claim rule 59 was unconstitutional.

The judge said the State has the discretion to exclude certain categories of persons from being entitled to remission, including those persons jailed after being found in contempt of court.

The rule in question  was both "reasoned and rational" and in no way could be described as being discriminatory, he said.

As a result of the decision Mr O'Shea will remain in custody to the end of the month when his 100 day term expires.

Mr O'Shea is currently serving his sentence at Shelton Abbey Prison.

Last July, the High Court imposed the 100 day prison term on Mr O’Shea, of Davidstown, Castledermot, Co Kildare for his "serious and flagrant contempt" of orders and of a sworn undertaking he gave to comply with such orders.

Mr O'Shea, who opposed the application for his committal to prison, was brought before the court over his failure to comply with orders to hand over possession of the buildings to the receiver George Maloney, appointed by Danske Bank. The buildings are close to Mr O'Shea's family home.

Mr Maloney was appointed in 2012 as receiver over 31 hectares of land, and a number of storage sheds owned by Mr O’Shea.

He had put the property up as security on a 2003 loan. Default on that loan led to the bank getting judgment for €1.29 million against Mr O’Shea.

The 100 day term was the second time Mr O'Shea was jailed for failing to comply with court orders. He previously spent 15 days in jail and was released after he agreed to comply with the orders.

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