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Dad-of-four fights jail term over his car loan

AN INQUIRY into the legality of a man's detention at Mountjoy prison arising out of a debt has come before the High Court.

Father-of-four David Morris was jailed for 28 days at Mountjoy Prison, on May 8 last, over claims he had failed to pay a debt that arose from his purchase of a car several years ago.

The car was financed through Friends First Finance Ltd. The court heard Mr Morris returned the car to the finance company six months after acquiring it.

It was sold for €9,000, although he said the vehicle was worth €20,000.

Arising out of sums claimed, Friends First brought District Court proceedings against Mr Morris. An instalment order was made against Mr Morris (35) of Tymon North Green Tallaght, Dublin, in July 2008. He says he never received any summons nor received any documentation in relation to the order. He had been living in Newry, Co Down, at the time.

In 2012 he returned to live in Dublin. He was arrested and brought before Dublin District Court, where he was without legal representation, on foot of a warrant issued over his failure to comply with the order.

He agreed to pay Friends First, following talks with their representatives, €5 a week. Friends First claimed it was owed €20,000, but then said the sum due was closer to €15,000.

When the matter returned before the District Court, Mr Morris told the judge he was disputing the amount sought by Friends First and would not pay the debt claimed. He was arrested on May 8 last and committed to prison for 28 days.

Yesterday Mr Morris, represented by Anne-Marie Lawlor, sought an inquiry into the legality of his detention.


Counsel sought an order for his release on grounds including that Mr Morris is detained on a warrant that refers to law previously deemed unconstitutional by the High Court.

It is also claimed that the warrant is bad because the District Court judge who heard the case did not inform Mr Morris of his right to apply for legal aid, and that the warrant is not in the correct form as required under the District Court rules.

Mr Justice Kevin Feeney agreed to adjourn the inquiry to next week after lawyers asked for time to consider the application. Mr Morris was released on bail.