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Saturday 25 January 2020

Guard protecting family of JP McManus sacked after he was found 'asleep on job'

An employment appeals tribunal has heard that John Alymer (32) was found snoring in a security hut, even though his guard dog was barking loudly at intruders outside.
An employment appeals tribunal has heard that John Alymer (32) was found snoring in a security hut, even though his guard dog was barking loudly at intruders outside.
John Alymer was sacked from his job at Martinstown House.
JP McManus and his wife Noreen.

Barry Duggan

A SECURITY guard assigned to protect millionaire JP McManus and his family was sacked after he slept straight through a random security check at the racing tycoon's home.

An employment appeals tribunal has heard that John Alymer (32) was found snoring in a security hut, even though his guard dog was barking loudly at intruders outside.

Mr Alymer, who was employed to guard the McManus family, their home, horses and art collection at Martinstown Stud, Co Limerick, was "comatose in sleep" during a security examination on the estate two years ago.

Mr Alymer, of Ballyvista, Emly, Co Tipperary, had worked for the McManus family for 10 years and was earning €460-a-week after tax. He was immediately dismissed without pay following the incident on June 9, 2010.

He has brought a case against Mr McManus's wife Noreen, trading as Martinstown Stud, claiming that he was unfairly dismissed and did not receive minimum notice.

Barrister Mairead McKenna, representing Martinstown Stud, said Mr Alymer had an extremely important role as the McManus family required substantial security at their home, which houses an extensive art collection, high-value race horses and motor vehicles and equine machinery.

When dismissed, the security officer was already on a written warning following previous incidents.

Martinstown House manager Colm Hannon said that on one occasion Mr Alymer used a blue-mesh cloth to cover a CCTV camera which was monitoring the security lodge at the estate's main entrance.

Independent security consultant Daniel Elliot -- who was the Sultan of Brunei's head of security for 20 years -- said that when he spoke with Mr Alymer about this, he protested about his human rights and said the camera should not be there.

Subsequently, Mr Alymer claimed that security bollards at the estate's main entrance caused €1,500 of damage to the underside of his vehicle in February 2010.

Mr Hannon said Mr Alymer had raised the bollards himself and "was trying to extort funds from Martinstown" before he was given a final written warning and suspended for five days.

The tribunal, sitting in Castleconnell, Co Limerick, heard that Mr Alymer was not dismissed on that occasion as he had been working there for 10 years and the McManus family "regard service and loyalty as an important aspect".

In the early hours of June 9, 2010, Mr Alymer's supervisor, DJ Roche, along with another man, began a covert operation to see if the estate could be penetrated. The two men came upon Mr Alymer sound asleep in a security hut at one of Martinstown's three entrances.

'Snoring'

Ms McKenna said the security officer was "sound asleep to the point they could hear him snoring outside the hut".

Pickles -- a security dog -- was barking loudly at the intruders but Mr Alymer "remained comatose in sleep" with his arms folded, legs up and shoes off.

The two men observed him sleeping for another 20 minutes before Mr Alymer's phone alarm went off at 3.40am.

The security officer woke up, shook himself down and left the hut for a patrol of the estate, the tribunal was told.

Mr Roche spoke to him the next morning and he was suspended without pay as he was not responding to calls to attend an investigation meeting.

Mr Hannon said Mr Alymer was later dismissed as there was too much at stake and they couldn't have him asleep on the job.

Ms McKenna said the security officer needed to be alert, adding: "It was a gross dereliction of his duties."

After his dismissal, Mr Alymer filed a complaint, claiming that he had been bullied by Mr Roche. The allegation was investigated by Martinstown, but nothing arose from it.

Solicitor for Mr Alymer, Colin Morrissey, said his client was very proud of his position at Martinstown and rejected the allegations made against him.

Mr Morrissey said his client had been warned by a colleague three days before the security test that he would not be in Martinstown much longer.

The tribunal will resume hearing the case next year.

Irish Independent

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