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Saturday 18 January 2020

Sean Quinn shares pint with son before being set off to jail

Lynsdey Telford

A BROKEN man, beaten and weathered, he sat down to his last supper and one final pint with his dutiful son.

Sean Quinn struck a desolate figure as he perched in the corner of the cramped bar at Dublin's High Court.

Enjoying his last moments as a free man with his son Sean Quinn Jnr, he devoured the hot dinner with little on his mind but a nine-week stretch in a tiny cell ahead of him.

Just a short hour later, that fallen tycoon was bundled into a Garda van, and with sirens blaring, whirred away to prison.

"They took all my money, they took my companies, they took my reputation and they put me in jail," said Quinn following his final hearing.

Once Ireland's richest man, strong and imposing, the bankrupt ex-billionaire had shrunk to a shadow of his former self as he spoke to journalists.

He blamed toxic bank Anglo for taking him to court, in a case that exposed his role in a multimillion-euro asset-stripping plot.

With bloodshot eyes, tears already shed, he spoke of his sadness at being locked up over Christmas, away from the tight-knit family that made up his fallen empire.

Earlier, the 66-year-old squeezed into a packed courtroom to learn his fate over his role in a scheme that put his €500m international property business beyond the reach of the former Anglo Irish Bank.

One of his many fiercely loyal supporters had saved him a narrow spot on a jammed bench.

In a black suit, pin-stripe shirt and navy and yellow tie, Quinn had all eyes on him as he attempted to blend in with the crowd.

Catching glances with some old friends, he winked back at them.

But there was an underlying sadness in his demeanour, anxiety etched on his face, as his shoulders slumped in the tension-filled courtroom six.

At one point during the hearing, all defiance seemed to have left Quinn's stiff body and he bent onto himself, weight heaped on his elbows, resting on his aged knees.

He held a crumpled white handkerchief in his hand and rubbed his sweaty brow as the judge read out her findings.

Biting his lip during the judge's remarks, Quinn held the hanky to his face, dabbing it around his mouth.

But when she delivered the nine-week prison sentence, he stared straight ahead, eyes bloodshot, with a look of desolate acceptance on his wrinkled face.

His son had been standing at the back of the court room, keeping a watchful eye on his frail father.

Fresh from his own contempt of court prison sentence, he knew all too well what his hero was feeling.

It was then the court broke for lunch, allowing the old man with the heart condition one last pint with his boy.

Tension filled the air when the hearing resumed. Tears had finally filled Quinn's eyes when reality hit and his lawyer told the court he would go straight to prison, without waiting on his Supreme Court appeal.

When matters were over, he shook hands with tearful supporters and flanked by his loyal son and son-in-law Niall McPartland, blew his nose and dabbed his eyes with that ever-present white handkerchief.

Then, during an impromptu press briefing, he pleaded with reporters to investigate matters themselves concerning Anglo - now the rebranded Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

But with just one tap on the arm and a muted "Mr Quinn", a Garda officer led the prisoner out of the court.

Crowds followed, craning their necks to catch whatever glimpse they could of the ruined businessman.

He was led to a cell under the grand round hall of the Four Courts as he waited for a Garda van to take him away.

It was then a quick journey out of the court to meet his waiting fate. With a sharp nod, he acknowledged his son, who had been outside, having a smoke.

Quinn left the building, took a short gasp of fresh air and quickly leapt into the waiting Garda van.

Despite thousands of fans - as well as detractors - across the country, and surrounded by die-hard supporters in court, he was suddenly alone in the empty white vehicle.

And within the blink of an eye it was gone. A siren echoed in the distance, as Ireland's once richest man was delivered to a cell of disgrace and dishonour.

PA Media

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