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Court dispute between farmer and contractor

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Wexford Courthouse in Ardcavan.

Wexford Courthouse in Ardcavan.

Wexford Courthouse in Ardcavan.

Judge Gerard Haughton was given a lesson in the value of straw as he heard one side of the evidence in a dispute between two former agricultural business colleagues.

The judge returned from a lunch hosted by members of the Wexford legal profession to mark his appointment to the Special Criminal Court in Dublin ready to deal with the matter of Pat Roche Contracting Limited of Clonmines in Wellingtonbridge versus John Cullen from Maxboley in Ballymitty.

Civil engineering and agricultural contractor Roche came to the courthouse in Ardcavan looking for €8,658 from Cullen, who reckoned that he was the one owed money, to the tune of €6,741.

First into the witness box was Pat Roche who acknowledged that he is managing director and proprietor of the limited company which bears his name.

He told the court that he had business dealings with farmer John Cullen over many years.

The judge heard that Cullen had driven machinery for Roche and that Roche had let land from Cullen.

The pair ended up in dispute over how much Cullen's services as a driver were worth.

He claimed €16 per hour while Roche calculated €10 per hour was the going rate.

The value of the land letting was also disputed, with owner Cullen basing his figures on €150 per acre per year, while Roche suggested €120 per acre was nearer the mark for what he called 'marginal tillage land'.

Matters came to a head in August 2014 when Roche came to clear the straw from a field belonging to Cullen on which he had grown corn.

He had agreed to supply the straw to Biotricity as fuel but the landowner wanted it as bedding for his cattle.

At one stage, Roche recalled, he blocked the gate of the field with his jeep and the gardaí were called.

They persuaded him to remove the jeep and go to have a word with his solicitor, leading eventually to the civil proceedings being considered by the court.

By the time Pat Roche had finished giving evidence, the time was 6 p.m. and the judge adjourned for a month to the civil sitting of June 23 without hearing from John Cullen.

Both sides were promised that the case will be given priority on that date.

Wexford People