Thursday 14 December 2017

‘No show’ businessman to go to jail for contempt

By Aodhan O'Faolain

A JUDGE has ordered that a businessman be committed to prison for his failure to comply with a High Court order obtained by a receiver over a property owned by him.

Mr Justice George Birmingham ruled today that Gerry Burns, who was not present in court, was in contempt of a court order obtained in the High Court by receiver Patrick Horkan and must be committed to prison. 

Mr Horkan was appointed receiver by Ulster Bank over a commercial property of Mr Burns's located at College Street, Cavan.

The receiver's application arises from orders granted by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy last February in favour of Mr Horkan of KPMG.

The orders compelled Mr Burns to carry out certain tasks, including to hand over keys and give security codes to the receiver so he could take possession of the building by a certain date.

However he failed to carry out those tasks and as a result, a motion seeking to have Mr Burns committed to prison was brought.

The motion came before the courts on several occasions  and was adjourned from time to time to allow Mr Burns consider his position.

This morning lawyers for Mr Horkan said that Mr Burns, of Drumcase, Killeshandra, Cavan had not complied with the order, which he continued to defy, and the receiver had not got possession of the property.  

The Judge said that he was satisfied that Mr Burns was in contempt of court and said that he should be committed to prison. A warrant directing the Gardai to arrest Mr Burns and commit him to prison was issued.

The Judge also directed that Mr Burns be brought before the court at an appropriate time to inquire if he is prepared to purge his contempt. 

When the matter was previously before the court Mr Burns denied he was in contempt of court and argued the orders made against him are invalid.

However on Tuesday Mr Burns said that he would comply with the orders, would have over keys of the property the receiver, under duress.

However Mr Justice Birmingham said that Mr Burns had to fully comply with the orders, and gave him until 9-30am this morning to hand over possession of the property.

However Mr Burns, who was representing himself but had been accompanied to court by Meath East by election candidate Ben Gilroy. did not appear in the Fours Courts this morning.

Previously Rossa Fanning BL, for the receiver, said his client did not wish to see Mr Burns sent to prison and the purpose of the application was to achieve compliance with the court order. 

Mr Burns had not sought to appeal, vary or have the High Court order set aside and could not now seek to re-visit that order, he added.  

Mr Burns argued the receiver's appointment is not valid and the orders against him were therefore void. 

Mr Justice Birmingham had said that he could not revisit the orders. The judge also refused Mr Burn's application to have the matter heard by a jury.

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