Friday 23 March 2018

'Serious sewage problem' at overcrowded house where up to 70 residents were living - court hears

A room full of bunk beds at The Pines, Lehaunstown. Photo:
A room full of bunk beds at The Pines, Lehaunstown. Photo:

Ray Managh

A court has been told there is now a serious sewage problem at a Co Dublin private residential house where up to 70 South American and east Europeans had unlawfully been housed.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane, who had directed that the house be cleared of residents by noon today, said in the Circuit Civil Court that she had read an affidavit which revealed there was now a sewage problem “on top of everything else.”

Jayne Dobson, an engineer with Dunlaoghaire-Rathdown County Council, stated in the affidavit that she had carried out an inspection at The Pines, Lehaunstown, Cabinteely, following fears that a septic tank serving the premises may not be suitable for the intensity of occupancy.

She stated that the Ballyogan Stream, a tributary of the Shanganagh-Loughlinstown river runs almost parallel to the property and both stream-water and groundwater systems were vulnerable to pollution.

Ms Dobson told the court that the waste water treatment system at the house comprised a septic tank and percolation area.

“There were manifest issues with the treatment system which give an impression that there is a serious risk of pollution of the Ballyogan Streem as well as ground water in the area,” she said.

Ms Dobson said blocked waste gullies at the side of the house was causing effluent to collect on the hard-standing car park area and a broken inlet pipe to the septic tank pit was permitting raw sewage to collect around the outside of the tank.

She said the tank was manifestly inadequate for servicing the waste from a property containing in excess of 10 people let alone 60.  The percolation area was equally inadequate for treating the waste of the number of people occupying the premises.

Ms Dobson stated that suspected sewage effluent was discharging from the percolation area into the car park area and through an opening in the boundary wall into the river bank.

“I believe that in order to mitigate the potential contamination risk to the environment that intensive use of the sewage system must cease,” she told the court.

Michael Binchy, who appears with solicitor Kevin O’Higgins for the owner of the house, 85-year-old Richard Stanley, of “The Pines,” Glenamuck Road, Glenamuck, Dublin 18, said his client had been unaware of the situation.

Mr Stanley’s son, who lives in London, had rented the property to Christian Carter, who has addresses at Dunedin Drive, Monkstown, Co Dublin and at Grove Park, Rathmines, Dublin, for €4,000 a month.

Barrister Liam O’Connell, counsel for the local authority said the council is seeking an injunction restraining the continued use of the house as a multi-occupancy dormitory property.  He believed council for Mr Carter would be telling the court the number of residents had now been reduced to 10.

Fran Rooney, who appears with O’Brien Redmond Solicitors for Mr Carter, told Judge Linnane his client had not appeared in court because he was currently busy reducing the number of tenants in the house and trying to find accommodation for them.

Judge Linnane said he should be asked to attend court later today when she intends to deal with the county council’s application for a permanent injunction.

Mr O’Connell had earlier told the court that the local authority had moved to obtain the injunction after learning that up to 70 tenants were occupying a living room, a dining room, bedrooms and the basement of the house in “dangerous, unhealthy and cramped conditions.”

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