Sunday 17 December 2017

Stress of receivership led to gun threat, claims wife


A BUSINESSMAN who was consumed by anxiety over his financial troubles turned a shotgun on a security guard after the banks appointed a receiver to his property.

Pat Barrington pointed the weapon at the security guard after he was challenged about removing a machine from his recycling plant.

The confrontation took place days after ACC Bank appointed a receiver to the plant near Kilrush in Co Clare to recover a €350,000 mortgage from Mr Barrington and his wife.

Although the situation was defused, Mr Barrington was subsequently arrested and the security guard told gardai that he feared for his life.

A file is expected to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Barrington's wife, Carmel, has chosen to highlight the case to demonstrate the pressures facing struggling business owners.

Mrs Barrington, who claimed her husband was "at the end of his tether" and never intended to harm the security guard, believes more must be done to mediate in the often fractious relationships between debt-burdened families and banks pursuing them.

"I hope that by highlighting the case someone at Government level will take note of what is actually happening," she said.

"People are very frightened and the whole situation is getting out of hand."

The Barringtons' own troubles came about after their waste-recycling plant ran into mechanical and financial difficulties in 2006.

They had developed a plant that recycled waste plastics into pellets, using a €350,000 mortgage from ACC Bank and an €80,000 investment loan from ACC's asset-financing arm to buy the machinery in from Germany.

The project was beset by financial and technical problems. Although the couple eventually got it up and running, the Barringtons were left with enormous debts.

Judgements were issued against them, including one for €860,000 secured against the couple by ACC's asset-financing arm in 2009.

Meanwhile, arrears of €50,000 built up on the Barringtons' €350,000 mortgage. They met ACC to try to come to an arrangement last October but the bank served a final demand in November.

On April 28, ACC sent in a receiver to take possession of the plant. Two days later, Pat Barrington moved a machine from his lands to a neighbour's property and from there to his own yard, according to Mrs Barrington. A security guard followed him into his yard, seeking the return of the machine.

"Pat asked the security guard to leave and he wouldn't leave. He (Mr Barrington) came in (to his house) and got a shotgun and belt and went back into the yard with the gun," she said.

He pointed the weapon at the security guard and told him to leave. But Carmel, who was desperately concerned, shouted at the security guard to go away, which he did.

"I bought Pat inside and made him tea and tried to calm him down," she said. "The next thing the gardai arrived and he was arrested for threatening the security guard with a shotgun."

Pat Barrington's shotgun has been confiscated and he is on anxiety medication while awaiting the outcome of the garda investigation. The couple's substantial debts have spiralled and the tension has intensified since their plant was placed in receivership.

The family home is 300 yards from the plant, which now has 24-hour security. Their relationship with the security firm is strained.

According to Mrs Barrington, the situation is further compounded by the fact that the Barringtons' two daughters and their granddaughter live in a flat over an office on the plant -- which makes the bank their new landlords.

Mrs Barrington said that her husband was "never into firearms" and only kept the gun to deter thieves.

"He was acting out of fear and frustration," she said. "It is total stress. This is the level of pain he was going through."

Sunday Independent

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