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Debt agency used acid to intimidate me, court told

Two Dublin City restaurateurs have been intimidated and threatened by employees of a debt recovery agency over a disputed debt of €70,000, the High Court has heard.

The claims were made by Patrick Whelan, owner and majority shareholder of Mexico to Rome in Temple Bar, Salamanca on St Andews Street, Dublin, and Da Pino on Parliament Street.

Mr Whelan, along with fellow shareholder in two of the restaurants, Caroline Boyle, was yesterday granted an injunction preventing interference by Jim and Colm Banks, trading as Jim Banks & Sons Ltd of Strand Road in Portmarnock, and by their servants and agents.

Mr Whelan claims they have been "shaken to the core" and he "fears for his family and employees" as a result of being threatened by individuals calling themselves Debt 1 Recovery.

Mr Whelan denies the alleged debt.

He and Ms Boyle also fear that a new restaurant venture due to open today at Parliament Street will be disrupted.

The court heard that since December, debt collectors had entered the restaurants started shouting that they are owed money.

They intimidated staff, sent threatening messages, and acid was poured over Mr Whelan's Aston Martin car, as well as his daughter's car.

The order granted by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy prevents the defendants from watching and besetting, harassing and intimidating the plaintiffs or attending at their restaurant on Parliament Street.

The matter was made returnable to later this week.