Friday 23 August 2019

Millionaire farmer (82) walks free after antique table dispute

Row over heritage table: Farmer John Joseph McCabe (82)
Row over heritage table: Farmer John Joseph McCabe (82)

Gordon Deegan

Multi-millionaire bachelor farmer John Joseph McCabe has beaten an assault charge over a tug of war concerning a heritage table.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan dismissed the charge against the 82-year-old farmer of assaulting businessman John Colleran (55) at Abbey View in Clarecastle on May 12 last.

After hearing evidence from Mr Colleran and his brother Joe over the tug of war with Mr McCabe over the heritage piece, Inspector David Finnerty said the State would be offering no further evidence.

Judge Durcan said: "I am glad you did that, inspector, because this case is so riddled with contradictions that to go any further would be a complete waste of time."

During the Celtic Tiger era, Mr McCabe of Carnelly House, Clarecastle, Co Clare, scooped the largest amount from any land deal in Clare when he sold 48 acres for €18.8m to a Galway developer in 2005.

In evidence in the tug-of-war case, John Colleran said that he was with his brother Joe and sister Veronica at his late father's workshop on Saturday morning, May 12.

He said they there to abide by his father's wishes, to identify for sale all the material in the workshop and give the proceeds to his father's grandchildren.

Mr Colleran said his father had died just two weeks previously, and the last piece he repaired was the pod or 'leg' of a heritage table.

Mr Colleran said Mr McCabe arrived at the workshop and he alleged Mr McCabe said: "That is my f***ing table. I am taking it and no one is stopping me."

Mr Colleran said he told Mr McCabe: "As far as I am concerned, it is not your table, it is belonging to a man in Co Limerick."

He said: "I told him that if he could prove the table was his, he could have it."

Mr Colleran claimed that Mr McCabe grabbed the table and a struggle ensued.

He said Mr McCabe had the table in his hands and forced his way out of the garage with the table.

He said he tried to prevent Mr McCabe leaving, and was driven against a trailer by Mr McCabe carrying the table, and sustained a cut to his arm. Mr Colleran called the gardaí and made a statement the following day.

Mr Colleran said that Mr McCabe "grabbed the table like a rugby ball and was going for a try".

However, after Joe Colleran admitted that he also had his hands on the table with Mr McCabe when the table made contact with his brother John, as he collided with the trailer, Insp Finnerty withdrew the case.

John Colleran told the court Mr McCabe left the property without the table.

He alleged Mr McCabe said: "I have the money, I have the power and I will take you to court to blacken the Colleran name."

On behalf of Mr McCabe, Elaine Houlihan BL said it was simply implausible that an assault took place.

She said Mr McCabe rightfully asserted that the table was his and picked up the table.

Ms Houlihan said the man of 82 was exhausted with the tug of war with the two younger, fitter men and he left the table down and then left the property.

Irish Independent

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