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'Insolvent' car dealer in legal aid bid made €450,000 payments to keep family mansion

Intimidation case told that cash came from 'undisclosed sources'


John Alex Kane. Photo: Collins

John Alex Kane. Photo: Collins


Property: Businessman Mr Kane’s six-bedroom home in Granard, Co Longford

Property: Businessman Mr Kane’s six-bedroom home in Granard, Co Longford


John Alex Kane. Photo: Collins

A businessman seeking free legal aid to defend contempt proceedings has made payments totalling €450,000 from "undisclosed sources" to keep his mansion from being seized, a court has been told.

The High Court heard claims €25,000 was hidden in a cupboard at the property owned by car dealer John Alex Kane.

Gary McCarthy SC, for receiver Myles Kirby, said that, until recently, high-value cars were parked outside the six-bedroom home in Granard, Co Longford. One vehicle, an €80,000 Range Rover, had "disappeared across the Border", he said.

The disclosures came as Mr Justice Michael MacGrath set a hearing date for an application by Mr Kirby, who wants the court to activate a two-month suspended sentence for civil contempt handed down to Mr Kane last year.

Mr Kirby, of Kirby Healy Chartered Accountants, was appointed receiver over several of Mr Kane's properties by the Revenue Commissioners in a bid to recoup a €4.97m judgment relating to unpaid taxes on car sales. But the receiver says that, since his appointment in 2017, a campaign of intimidation has been orchestrated by Mr Kane to dissuade prospective purchasers.

Mr Kirby has linked Mr Kane to incidents of arson, the poisoning of feeding troughs and the contamination of a farmer's milk with penicillin, allegations the businessman vehemently denies.

The most recent incident complained of was an alleged attempt by Mr Kane to break into his former showroom on June 9 during which he was spotted by a garda out for a jog.

Mr Kirby says this was a breach of undertakings given by Mr Kane, but the car dealer denies attempting to break in.

Mr McCarthy, who appeared with solicitor Michael Commons, of Ivor Fitzpatrick & Co, said there were "lots of incidents" where the receiver could not prove Mr Kane's involvement.

"But we do have him caught red-handed breaking into the garage premises," he said.

Mr Kane told Mr Justice MacGrath he needed more time as he had sought civil legal aid but the process was delayed after the Legal Aid Board sought property valuations as part of a means test.

Mr Kane has previously claimed to be insolvent.

Pressing for a hearing by the end of the month, Mr McCarthy said he suspected it would be "very difficult" for Mr Kane to get legal aid "on the basis of the assets we suspect he has".

He said Mr Kane had paid €450,000 from "undisclosed sources" in recent years under an arrangement allowing him to keep his home.

Mr Kane disputed claims €25,000 was hidden in a cupboard at his home or that he had high-value cars. "All I have in the yard is scrap," he said.

He also alleged the receiver was "throwing slander" and "blackening" him by making allegations with "no proof".

After Mr Kane attempted to raise historical issues in his tax case, Mr Justice MacGrath said he would not trawl over the events of the last 15 years.

"What I am concerned with is what happened since you gave the undertaking and whether what happened constituted a breach of the undertaking," he said.

Setting a hearing date of July 29, the judge said he had to balance the rights of the parties and could not let the case drag on indefinitely.

Irish Independent