Thursday 22 February 2018

Grandmother denies contempt of court as home is now 'gone'

Claire Knowles at the High Court yesterday. Photo: Courtpix
Claire Knowles at the High Court yesterday. Photo: Courtpix

Tim Healy

A woman jailed for contempt of a court order requiring her to hand over possession of her home to a bank says that, as her home is now "gone", there was no longer any contempt to purge.

Claire Knowles told the High Court that given the house, at Castlejayne Woods, Glanmore, Co Cork, "is gone" she has "nothing to purge at this stage".

Ms Knowles was freed on bail last week pending the outcome of an inquiry into the legality of her detention in Limerick Prison.

When the case returned before Mr Justice Richard Humphreys yesterday she said she was "a mother and grandmother" who worked for "the State airline" for years, was never in prison before and was entitled to natural justice and fair procedures.

"I am not a criminal, I never did anything wrong in my life, I am forced into this position," she said.

It was up to the banks and not the Governor of Limerick Prison to justify the legality of her detention and the State should "concede", she said.

There was an issue about the title in the warrant for her detention, which was originally in the name of ICS Building Society but later amended to the Governor and Company of Bank of Ireland, she argued.

Mr Justice Humphreys told Ms Knowles that the bank was not involved in this inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution into the legality of her detention.Although the State had applied to the court to join the relevant financial institutions, he had refused that application as it was for the State to justify the legality, he said.

The judge adjourned the hearing to today after Mr Farrell said he needed an adjournment to allow for the production of a transcript of the digital recording of the December 8 Cork Circuit Court proceedings when Ms Knowles was jailed for contempt.

Ms Knowles (56), representing herself, is assisted by anti-eviction activist Ben Gilroy.

She said that she is separately appealing an order for possession of her home.

Irish Independent

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