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Judge rejects intimidation case car dealer's 'double jeopardy' claims


John Alex Kane

John Alex Kane

John Alex Kane

A judge has rejected arguments that it would be unjust for a businessman to be subject to a High Court contempt hearing over an alleged attempted break-in while he is awaiting a separate criminal trial over the same matter.

Car dealer John Alex Kane claimed he was at risk of "double jeopardy" and that his ­District Court criminal trial could be prejudiced.

However, Mr Justice Michael MacGrath ruled the contempt hearing could go ahead as he was not satisfied Mr Kane had established he would suffer any injustice. The contempt hearing will take place next month, while the criminal matter will come before the District Court in September.

It is thought to be the first time such an issue has been raised in the Irish courts.

No case law could be found for this jurisdiction.

According to Revenue-appointed receiver Myles Kirby, Mr Kane has orchestrated a campaign of intimidation to interfere in the sale of properties being sold to satisfy a €4.97m judgment against him over unpaid taxes on car sales.

Mr Kirby has alleged this has involved arson, the poisoning of feeding troughs and the contamination of a farmer's milk. But the incident giving rise to the contempt application was the arrest and charging of Mr Kane for allegedly attempting to break into his former car showroom in Granard, Co Longford, in June.

This prompted Mr Kirby to apply for the activation of a two-month suspended sentence handed down to Mr Kane by the High Court last year for civil contempt after he was found to have breached undertakings not to interfere with the receiver's work.

Mr Kane denies Mr Kirby's allegations and denies the showroom incident was a breach of undertakings.

The matter was in court yesterday for Mr Justice MacGrath to decide whether the application to activate the sentence could go ahead.

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In an affidavit, Mr Kane asked for a stay of the proceedings until the outcome of the criminal case. "Continuing these civil proceedings before would breach my rights to a fair trial and of innocence until proven guilty," he said.

But Gary McCarthy SC, for Mr Kirby, said there was nothing wrong with parallel proceedings taking place. He said neither the gardaí nor the DPP had sought the adjournment of the application.

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