Gardai order alert for Quinn nephew after he disappears
GARDAI last night ordered an air and sea-port alert for on-the-run business mogul Peter Darragh Quinn, who is facing a three-month jail sentence for contempt of court.
After a warrant for his arrest was issued in the High Court yesterday, senior gardai began a manhunt at home and overseas. Mr Quinn, nephew of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn, was not in court when the sentence was handed down.
His cousin, Sean Quinn Jnr, was also sentenced to three months for contempt and spent last night in Mountjoy Prison. However, Sean Quinn Snr escaped imprisonment yesterday. The trio fell foul of the court for attempting to keep details of a €500m property empire from the former Anglo Irish Bank.
This is the first time anyone has been jailed arising from investigations into the collapse of Anglo.
Peter Darragh Quinn is the son of former GAA president Peter Quinn. He had been signing affidavits in his lawyers' offices until 3am but failed to appear in the High Court later.
Last night gardai visited his home and other properties where he might be staying in Dublin and elsewhere but could not find any trace of him.
Garda districts where Mr Quinn was either known to have a base or stayed with friends were prioritised as details of his disappearance were circulated.
A description of the missing businessman was also sent to gardai on duty at the ports and his name was added to a list routinely distributed to other police forces through Interpol and Europol. Gardai were also in close contact throughout the day with the PSNI.
A senior officer told the Irish Independent last night: "This man is obviously not a dangerous criminal at large.
"But our job is to follow the orders given by the judge and make every effort to track him down and bring him before the High Court," he added.
Officers were investigating reports that Mr Quinn had fled across the Border.
Initially, it was thought that he might have taken ill because of the stress of the court case and had been admitted to hospital. But last night officers were satisfied that he intended to leave the jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, a decision on where Sean Quinn Jnr will spend the rest of his sentence will be made by prison authorities today. He will probably be sent to the Midlands jail in Portlaoise but Wheatfield in west Dublin is another option.
Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne found that the two men had failed to adequately comply with court orders aimed at reversing measures stripping multimillion-euro assets from the Quinn family's international property group.
She said it was an "outrageous" contempt of court orders by the two cousins and Sean Quinn Snr.
The judge refused a bid by lawyers of the two cousins to put the sentence on hold, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court. If they do not co-operate, the two will serve the full sentence as it does not qualify for a quarter of remission on grounds of good behaviour.
And if they refuse to change their stance, they could end up before the court again on further contempt issues.
During the court hearing the judge was told that a solicitor for the Quinns had been phoned after 10am, apparently by a relative of Peter Darragh Quinn, to say he was sick. But further efforts to contact that person or Peter Quinn had failed.
It was also stated that he appeared to be "okay" when he filed the affidavits.
Mr Quinn Snr was allowed to stay out of jail to take measures to comply with court orders and provide details of the family's assets.
He clutched his white linen handkerchief in his hands and bowed his head as the judge ordered the two young men to be jailed.
He declined to comment on the decision as he left the Four Courts complex and told inquiring reporters to "have a good weekend".
Arguing against imprisoning the men, Brian O'Moore, senior counsel for the 65-year-old businessman, said it was wrong to lock up one member of the family in the hope another would act. "This almost medieval approach of holding the son to see what the chieftain father will do in terms of freeing the son's liberty is wholly inadequate," he said.
But Ms Justice Dunne responded that it was far from medieval and she considered it a "practical" way of encouraging compliance with the orders.
She refused to accept they had no control over assets when eight members of the family had received €2.8m in pay and income from their firms since April last year.
Mr Quinn senior owes €2.8bn to Anglo, now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), after sustaining unprecedented losses.
The Quinn family have admitted that they owe €455m but dispute the claims on the rest of the money.