Tuesday 16 July 2019

Judge orders arrest of man in land row with receiver

Order: High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly. Photo: Damien Eagers
Order: High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly. Photo: Damien Eagers
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The President of the High Court has ordered the arrest of man alleged to be involved in a long-running campaign of intimidation and interference which has hampered the work of a Revenue-appointed receiver.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly made the order after Seamus Kane, of Ardnagullion, Granard, Co Longford, failed to show up in the High Court for a contempt hearing.

The court heard how, in an affidavit, he admitted breaching an undertaking not to enter lands being sold by receiver Myles Kirby, but claimed he was "not in my sane or right state of mind" when he did so. 

Both Seamus Kane and his brother, car dealer John Alex Kane, had been due to face contempt of court applications brought by Mr Kirby today, but neither showed up.

The application against John Alex Kane was adjourned for a week after he submitted a doctor’s letter to the court.

However, while the court heard Seamus Kane was claiming to be ill, no medical certificate was produced.

Mr Justice Kelly gave Mr Kirby leave to issue an order of attachment directing gardaí to arrest and detain Seamus Kane and bring him before the court next Wednesday, where he faces the prospect of being jailed for contempt.

Mr Kirby has been attempting to sell land owned by John Alex Kane in Co Longford in a bid to satisfy a judgment of almost €4.97m secured by the Revenue against the car dealer a decade ago.

But the court has heard his efforts to do so have been hampered by acts of intimidation and interference allegedly directed by John Alex Kane, whose family ran the Kanes of Granard motor sales business for many years.

The campaign is said to have involved threats being made to prospective buyers, a petrol bomb attack, break-ins, criminal damage, and the repeated placement of livestock on the land being sold.

Both brothers have previously been jailed by Mr Justice Kelly for contempt of court.

In Seamus Kane’s case he was jailed last November for breaching Mr Justice Kelly’s order not to interfere in Mr Kirby’s efforts to sell the parcels of land.

The court previously heard he had erected 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.

Today the court was told the receiver learned Seamus Kane was carrying out grass-topping with heavy machinery at one of the parcels of land, known as Willsbrook, on April 19.

Local gardaí were called and went to the scene. Seamus Kane left the land after being told to desist.

In an affidavit, Mr Kirby alleged Seamus Kane consciously and wilfully breached the terms of sworn undertakings by entering the lands at Willsbrook and other properties being sold by the receiver at Cranleybeg and Tullygullion.

Mr Kirby alleged access was gained by cutting high-security locks and chains.

The receiver alleged the incursions were a crude attempt to demonstrate to locals and prospective purchasers that the lands were still under the control of the Kane family.

In a replying affidavit, Seamus Kane said he became depressed after being released from prison last December.

He admitted entering the land to carry out grass topping because he believed it was wrong that the field should be left “in such a bad condition”.

“At no stage did I consider entering the property in order to assert any rights to same,” he said.

“No benefit could or would be received by me for topping the field and it was only the one small field which was close to my home.”

Seamus Kane said he “did not consciously and wilfully breach” the terms of undertakings he had given to the court.

“I now accept that I did breach them, but I did so when not in my sane or right state of mind.”

He also denied breaking the security locks and said he cooperated with gardaí when they asked him to leave.

Asked by Mr Justice Kelly why Seamus Kane was not in court, his solicitor Brid Mimnagh said: “He told he me would be here. I received a text message from him this morning to say that he was getting a medical cert, that he was unable to come.”

The solicitor told the judge she had been advised by members of her client’s family that he “was drinking very heavily in recent times”.

“I think he has a very significant alcohol problem,” she said.

Ms Mimnagh asked the judge if he would consider putting the contempt application back by a week, saying she would “push very hard” for him to be present in court.

However, Mr Justice Kelly did not agree to this, saying: “In these circumstances I intend to procure his attendance with a view to the matter being dealt with.”

The judge said he had released Seamus Kane last December after getting undertakings from him.

“I then find within a matter of months he does precisely what he undertook not to do. And then to make matters worse he doesn’t appear here today,” the judge said.

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