Thursday 22 February 2018

Bankrupt farmer whose cattle were shot by army rangers served with €3.48m tax bill

Monaghan farmer John Hoey Picture: Pat Byrne
Monaghan farmer John Hoey Picture: Pat Byrne
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The bankrupt farmer whose cattle were shot by army rangers last week has been served with a €3.48m tax bill from the Criminal Assets Bureau.

John Hoey, from Carrickmacross, Monaghan, was slapped with the tax assessment for unpaid income tax over five years, according to his bankruptcy file.

Mr Hoey’s file also reveals that his bankruptcy supervisor, Chris Lehane, was advised not to search Mr Hoey’s property without a “significant armed detachment” of Gardai.

This weekend, Mr Hoey’s partner, Aisling, said the details in Mr Hoey’s bankruptcy file had “nothing to do with” the shooting of five heifers on his farm last Tuesday. “He does not see why his animals should have to suffer because of his bankruptcy,” she said.

The shooting of Mr Hoey’s cattle generated outcry amongst farming and animal welfare groups and was widely criticised in the Dail last week.  The herd was among the assets seized from Mr Hoey’s 200 acre farm by his bankruptcy supervisor to help repayment his debts

In interviews last week, Mr Hoey last week said he was “destroyed” after witnessing eight army marksmen shoot dead five of his herd of Red Limousin heifers. He said three heifers dropped dead in front of him, and another was shot dead as he ran towards her.

Read more: 'My cattle didn't have TB,' says farmer who watched them get shot

The Official Assignee, Chris Lehane, said most of the herd was removed from the farm, but five animals proved difficult to catch, they were “wild and dangerous” and after “exhausting all possibilities” the Defence Forces were brought in to shoot the animals “in a controlled environment”. 

Documents in Mr Hoey’s file reveal that he was declared bankrupt in February over a debt of €262,691 owed to John Kelly Fuels. 

Chris Lehane, the court appointed bankruptcy supervisor, stepped in to take control of his assets but according to court records, he suspected Mr Hoey was concealing some of his property from him.

Mr Lehane applied to the High Court for warrants to search premises including a hotel where he believed that trailers, a hay turner, a hopper, a hydraulic harrow, a fertiliser spreader, and a fodder beet crushing machine, were being stored, the documents show.

In his sworn statements, Mr Lehane said he contacted Gardai in Carrickmacross in line with Insolvency Service protocol. He said he was advised “that Mr Hoey is known to gardai and that under no circumstances” should he or the bankruptcy inspector “attempt to execute any search warrant or warrant of seizure...otherwise than in the presence of a significant armed detachment of An Garda Siochana which it is believed is essential to preserve the safety" of his "staff and the public".

The file reveals that security firm, Risk Management International, was paid €47,584 last month for providing security services to Mr Lehane.

The file also includes statement from Eugene Corcoran, now an assistant commissioner in charge of the CAB. He said was “a real and imminent” risk that John Hoey would “sell or move” goods, machinery and livestock on his property to “put them out of reach” of the official bankruptcy assignee.

Mr Hoey owes €449,987 to secured creditors, and €511,554 to unsecured creditors, according to court records on file.

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