Friday 23 August 2019

Man hit with two-month sentence for contempt in land sale case involving €4.95m tax judgment

John Alex Kane
John Alex Kane
Sale delay: A sign with the words ‘Ongoing Dispute Stay Out’ on the ground at the disputed farmland at Willsbrook, Co Longford. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Judge Peter Kelly

Tim Healy

A car dealer alleged to be giving the Revenue the "runaround" in its efforts to recover a €4.95m tax judgment obtained 10 years ago has received a two-month suspended sentence for civil contempt.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, imposed the sentence on Wednesday on the basis of his finding John Alex Kane was in contempt of undertakings not to interfere with a Revenue-appointed receiver's efforts to sell lands.

He suspended the two-month term in its entirety, but warned Mr Kane he would go to jail if there was any further interference by him with the work of receiver Myles Kirby.

The judge was not satisfied Mr Kane was in contempt of other undertakings concerning the filing of tax returns for periods from January 2017 and said that matter was one for the Revenue to address in due course.

Mr Kirby, represented by John Donnelly BL, instructed by Ivor Fitzpatrick solicitors, had sought the jailing order over alleged contempt of certain undertakings given to the court by Mr Kane.

Mr Kane, representing himself, denied contempt and denied any interference with the efforts to sell lands in Counties Longford and Cavan.

When the contempt matter was before the judge earlier this month, Mr Justice Kelly told Mr Kane he "frankly did not believe" his insistence he had not entered last March onto lands near Granard in breach of undertakings. 

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Judge Peter Kelly

There was "prima facie evidence" from a security agent of seeing Mr Kane departing the lands at Willsbrook on March 28 last and that entry amounted to contempt of  Mr Kane's undertakings, the judge found.

The judge had given Mr Kane two weeks to answer the Revenue's additional claims of breach of undertaking concerning tax returns.

When the matter returned before him on Wednesday, the judge was not satisfied, on the evidence, Mr Kane was in contempt in relation to the tax returns issue.

The judge previously said the “torturous and tiresome” litigation concerning Mr Kane, dating back to 2009, was supposed to have been brought to an end with undertakings given as part of an agreement between Mr Kane and the Revenue of November 2018.

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Sale delay: A sign with the words ‘Ongoing Dispute Stay Out’ on the ground at the disputed farmland at Willsbrook, Co Longford. Photo: Steve Humphreys

That agreement provided Mr Kirby will not pursue possession of Mr Kane's family home if Mr Kane pays €450,000 to the Revenue.

Mr Kane has made various payments as agreed and is to make a final payment of €120,000 in Novemb0er.

Mr Kirby alleged Mr Kane was in contempt of other undertakings under the agreement, including not to interfere with efforts to sell lands and to file tax returns for periods from January 2017.

Mr Kane denied contempt, denied he was involved in a "campaign" to deter purchasers of the lands and denied he was on lands at Willsbrook on March 28 last. He accepted he was late in filing tax returns, but said he had filed on June 17 last. He has children in college and a lot of debt, he added.

READ MORE: 'Game is over,' judge tells car dealer who could be jailed

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