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Man reduced to tears over loss of his holiday home

THE OWNER of an island holiday home that disappeared broke down yesterday as he told a High Court judge all he wanted was restitution, not retribution.

Neville Presho (61), asked permission to address Mr Justice Roderick Murphy at the close of the hearing in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

He is taking proceedings against hotelier Patrick Doohan and Óstán Oileán Thoraí Teoranta for destruction of property and ongoing trespass.

Mr Justice Murphy told Mr Presho that it was "not normal" to allow one of the parties to address the court after evidence had been heard. Mr Presho replied: "I'm not normal, your honour."

Mr Presho told the court: "This case is not about retribution. It's about restitution."

Mr Presho, who suffers from bipolar disorder, broke down and said: "The divine hand of God is in this court."

He recalled to the court a night in October 1994, which he had spent sleeping naked in the open air at Tor Mor, close to the cliffs on Tory island.

"I was praying for the island and that God would forgive it," he said.

He then handed the judge an open copy of the Bible asking him to read the underlined words from a passage from Isaiah: "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."

These were the words that closed the four-day hearing in which judgment has been reserved until the end of the month.

Filmmaker Mr Presho returned from New Zealand in 1994 after an eight-year absence to find his six-bedroom house onTory had vanished.

He claims that in its place is a hotel car park and septic tank.

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Mr Presho, who paid IR£3,000 for his house in 1981, turned down an offer from the island co-operative to purchase his house for IR£1,000 in December 1992. It burned down a month later. Hotelier Pat Doohan told the High Court that he had only second-hand knowledge of the fire and subsequent collapse of the boarded-up house in January 1993.

Giving evidence in Irish, Mr Doohan denied ever offering building contractor John McGinty IR£1,000 to demolish the house.

He claimed that after the fire, the stone structure of the house had been undermined and was further eroded by stormy weather and eventually collapsed a year later.

Denied

Mr Doohan, who had commenced building his hotel in 1992, purchased a strip of land adjacent to Mr Presho's site in 1998 to build a septic tank, but denied removing Mr Presho's septic tank in the process.

Mr Doohan also denied that the site where Mr Presho's house once stood was a carpark for the hotel.

Glenties-based Superintendent Eugene McGovern said gardai had found no evidence to suggest that Mr Doohan had been involved in the destruction of the house.

Legal submissions will be made in writing by both sides to Mr Justice Murphy, who will deliver his judgment at the end of the month.


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