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Sex abuser fails in bid to stop €4.7m damages

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RELIEF: Geraldine Nolan (left) and Jacqueline O'Toole after court ruling.

RELIEF: Geraldine Nolan (left) and Jacqueline O'Toole after court ruling.

Joseph Carrick

Joseph Carrick

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RELIEF: Geraldine Nolan (left) and Jacqueline O'Toole after court ruling.

A MAN ordered to pay €4.7m in damages for sexual abuse of two girls is not entitled to have the award set aside, a High Court judge has ruled.

Retired company director Joseph Carrick was ordered to pay €4m to Jacqueline O'Toole and €700,000 to her cousin Geraldine Nolan after two separate High Court juries found last November he had raped them when they were children.

Carrick (72), of Carysfort Woods, Blackrock, Co Dublin, was not represented during the trials claiming he was unable to pay for solicitors and did not represent himself.

 

IMPAIRMENT

After the awards were made along with orders freezing his assets, he got new solicitors who then asked the court to set aside the decrees on a number of grounds including that he suffered from cognitive impairment at the time the juries made their awards.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne ruled he was not entitled to have the award set aside which would mean a new trial would then have to take place.

Afterwards, both women said they were relieved at the judge's decision.

"We have been through so much in the last three years and it is finally coming to an end," Ms O'Toole said.

The case is back before the court next Tuesday when Ms Justice Dunne will hear applications from Carrick's lawyers for a stay on a number of orders against him, including the decrees for €4.7m and to hear arguments on costs.

The women's lawyers said they would be asking the court to consider committing him to prison over failure to comply with orders made by the court in relation to his assets.

In her judgment, Ms Justice Dunne said the rules of the courts provided for setting aside judgments in certain circumstances including where a defendant was not aware the trial was taking place.

This was not the situation in this case and there was a deliberate decision on Carrick's part not to attend court last November at the time his first solicitors had ceased to represent him.

It was also not the case that Mr Carrick was unaware that the cases were listed for hearing.

 

JURISDICTION

The inherent jurisdiction of the court to set aside a final order is limited in scope and generally not available where there is another remedy available and there is the option of appeal, to the Supreme Court, for Mr Carrick, she said.

On the issue of Carrick's mental capacity to understand what was going on last November, the judge said she accepted he suffered from mild cognitive impairment.

However, the evidence given to the court did not go so far as to show that he did not sufficiently understand, without legal assistance, the effect of the decisions made in the course of the litigation.

What was striking about this case was that Carrick was able to give "clear and detailed" accounts of the facts and background of the litigation to experts who examined him for the purpose of assessing his cognitive ability, she said.

She also said it was impossible to ignore the background of this case including the civil cases and four criminal trials which began in November 2011 and ended in July with the last criminal trial finishing without the jury reaching a verdict.

hnews@herald.ie


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