Thursday 19 July 2018

K Club superintendent denies he was at racetrack where former employee claims he was threatened, court hears

Peter Curran pictured at the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts
Peter Curran pictured at the Four Courts. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A resort superintendent at the K Club denies he was even at a racetrack where one of the club's former employees claims he was threatened, the High Court heard.

Former K Club catering manager, Peter Curran, has claimed the man who allegedly threatened him at Punchestown Races was "the messenger of Dr Michael Smurfit."

He told the court on Friday he went into meltdown after the encounter in the toilets at the racecourse when he claims his way was blocked by K Club resort superintendent Gerry Byrne.

Mr Curran was giving evidence in the third  day of his action against Mr Byrne, the K Club Ltd, Straffan, Co Kildare and Dr Michael Smurfit.

Mr Curran has claimed the incident happened on May 7, 2011, when his way was blocked in the toilets and Mr Byrne said "Dr Smurfit has not forgotten the statements about him and the call girls. Dr Smurfit knows where to find you and this is not over."

The defendants have denied all claims.

Mr Byrne's counsel, Bernard McDonagh, said on Friday his client will say he did not see Mr Curran at the races, did not have a conversation with him and never blocked his way coming out of the toilets.

Mr Curran has claimed the alleged motive behind the encounter with Mr Byrne was a reference to another case he had previously settled relating to his K Club employment in which he referred in a document to call girls being given free use of the hotel facilities at the Club.

Mr Curran was catering manager at the K Club between September 1997 and October 1998 when he claims he was forced to leave and later brought an unfair dismissal case which was settled in March 1999.

Mr Curran later brought High Court proceedings claiming alleged breach to his constitutional right to his good name and to earn a livelihood.

During the run up to that case in replies to written documents prepared for the proceedings, relating to alleged financial irregularities he had allegedly uncovered at the K Club, Mr Curran made reference to call girls, sometimes sourced abroad, were given free use of the hotel facilities.

Those proceedings were settled in 2008 and it is claimed it was an implied term of the agreement Mr Curran would not be threatened, harassed or intimidated in any manner.

During cross examination, Mr McDonagh SC put it to Mr Curran that Mr Byrne will say he is is very upset by the "scandalous allegations".

Mr Curran replied "I don't blame him for being upset. He was the  messenger for Dr Smurfit. You don't follow instructions you get fired.".

The words which Mr Byrne used " could only come from  from Michael Smurfit," he said.

Mr Byrne, he added, should not have confronted him but he said Mr Byrne  "was carrying out the instructions of Dr Smurfit."

He said he will call a witness who will say he recognised Mr Byrne at the races.

Asked about the alleged encounter, Mr Curran said Mr Byrne used a medium tone of voice.

"The demand was given, he was making sure it was delivered," he added,

Asked why he had gone to Punchestown where he was likely to run into Smurfit personnel, Mr Curran said he was invited and he felt he would have "safety in numbers."

The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues on Tuesday.

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