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Cowen's running mate loses appeal over bankruptcy

FORMER Fianna Fail politician Ger Killally has lost an appeal against a decision extending his term of bankruptcy for a year because of a conviction he received for stealing from his estate.

The one-time general election running mate of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he was being unfairly punished by a High Court decision last May that his exit from bankruptcy should be postponed for a year arising out of his conviction for stealing €18,000 of equipment from his bankrupt estate.

discharge

A former councillor, Mr Killally, of Edenderry, Co Offaly, applied for bankruptcy due to debts of more than €70m. In July 2009, he was adjudicated bankrupt.

Under a more lenient bankruptcy regime recently introduced, he was entitled to automatic discharge from that status last June.

However, at Midland Circuit Court in November 2012 he had pleaded guilty to theft of the refrigeration equipment which was under the control of the court-appointed official administering his estate, the official assignee Chris Lehane.

Later, Mr Lehane applied to the High Court to extend the bankruptcy period to June next year on the basis that Mr Killally failed to co-operate with the bankruptcy.

Mr Lehane also had concerns about two pension plans that had not been previously disclosed by Mr Killally.

Mr Killally appealed to the Supreme Court.

He had "taken his medicine" after pleading guilty to the theft. While awaiting sentence for the theft, he spent two weeks in Cloverhill Prison, his counsel Vincent P Martin said.

He was given a three-year suspended sentence and 240 hours' community service which he had completed.

Bernard Dunleavy SC, for Mr Lehane, argued the bankruptcy extension should stand to discourage non-compliance with the official assignee.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, in a unanimous decision on behalf of a three-judge Supreme Court, said there was no error of principle in the High Court decision and it was proportionately open to the judge to impose the extension.

He was also satisfied the pensions issue did not play any material part in the High Court decision.

hnews@herald.ie


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