Farmer sent to prison for interfering in land sale
A farmer has been jailed for a week and could face further sanction after admitting breaching undertakings not to interfere with land being sold by a Revenue-appointed receiver.
Seamus Kane, of Ardnagullion, Granard, Co Longford, was sent to Mountjoy after a contempt of court hearing before the President of the High Court.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the farmer committed "a flagrant breach" of orders and undertakings when he entered lands at Willsbrook, Co Longford, on April 19 to conduct grass topping. The property is one of a number being sold by receiver Myles Kirby in a bid to recoup some of a €4.97m judgment secured by the Revenue in 2009 against Seamus Kane's brother, car dealer John Alex Kane, over the non-payment of taxes on motor sales.
Mr Kirby alleged the incursion was a crude attempt to demonstrate to locals and prospective purchasers that the lands were still under the control of the Kane family.
His work has been hindered by a campaign of intimidation and interference directed by John Alex Kane.
The car dealer denies the claims.
Mr Justice Kelly said that on first sight the incursion by Seamus Kane might not appear to be a serious matter.
But he said it had to be seen in the light of a campaign of intimidation aimed at frustrating the receiver and scaring off purchasers.
The judge deferred a final decision on what punishment Seamus Kane should face as he wants to hear evidence from a doctor who the farmer claims gave him a medical certificate on Monday.
The judge said he had "some misgivings about the authenticity of the document" as it contained a number of misspellings and it appeared the doctor's stamp was a photocopy. Among the words misspelled was "alcoholism".
It is the second time Seamus Kane has been jailed for contempt. Last year, the court heard he put up signs warning trespassers would be hanged, and laminated the judge's orders, writing the word "void" on them, and posted them to several people including the judge himself.
Seamus Kane apologised to the court yesterday, saying he was "totally wrong".
"I have love for the land. I felt in my bones it [the topping] needed to be done. When the guards came, I realised I shouldn't be there," he said.
At one point during his evidence, Mr Justice Kelly said to him: "You are familiar with the old saying: 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me'." But Seamus Kane insisted his evidence was truthful and the medical certificate was genuine.
A separate contempt application in respect of John Alex Kane was adjourned for a week.