Man fails to have sex abuse damages of €4.7m set aside
Joseph Carrick was ordered to pay €4.7m to women after juries had found he raped them
A retired company director, Joseph Carrick was ordered to pay ¤4 m illion 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. Photograph: Reuters
A man ordered to pay €4.7 million damages to two women who he sexually abused when they were children has lost his High Court bid to have the damages order set aside.
A retired company director, Mr Carrick was ordered to pay €4 million 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.
Mr Carrick (72), Carysfort Woods, Blackrock, Co Dublin, did not attend and was not represented during the trials, claiming he was unable to pay for solicitors.
After the awards were made, plus orders freezing his assets, he engaged solicitors who then asked the court to set aside the damages decrees on 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, meaning no new trial will take place. Both women afterwards expressed relief 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. “We have been through five trials and we did not think last November that we would still be here.”
Ms Nolan said it had been very difficult to function normally with the case still going on, but they had got through it with the great support of their families.
The case is back before the court next Tuesday when Ms Justice Dunne will hear applications from Mr Carrick’s lawyers for a stay on various orders against him, including the decrees for €4.7 million. The judge will also hear arguments on costs.
The women’s lawyers said they would be asking the court to consider committing Mr Carrick to prison over failure to comply with orders made by the court in relation to his assets.
In her judgment, Ms Justice Dunne said court rules allowed for setting aside judgments in certain circumstances, including where a defendant was not aware the trial was taking place.
That was not the situation here, she said. There was “a deliberate decision” on Mr Carrick’s part not to attend court last November when his first solicitors had ceased to represent him.
“This is not a case of inadvertence, mistake or surprise,” she said. It was also not the case Mr Carrick was unaware that the cases were listed for hearing. The relevant court rules were therefore not applicable to the facts of this case.
The judge acknowledged Mr Carrick had problems arising from an imminent hip operation last November but said he knew the cases were listed for hearing that month and had taken no steps to deal with the circumstances that arose.
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, she said. There was the option of an appeal to the Supreme Court.
On the issue of Mr Carrick’s mental capacity to understand what was going on last November, the judge accepted he suffered from mild cognitive impairment, a problem linked to vascular ischaemia.
However, the evidence did not establish he did not sufficiently understand, without legal assistance, the effect of the decisions made in the course of the litigation, she said.
It was “striking” that Mr Carrick was able to give a “clear and detailed” account of the facts and background of the litigation to experts who examined him for the purpose of assessing his cognitive ability.
The judge added 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 2012, with the last criminal trial finishing without the jury being able to reach a verdict. There was never any suggestion during those trials of Mr Carrick’s fitness to plead, she said.
Having regard to all the evidence, she was not satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that he lacked capacity to make the necessary decisions in relation to the November 2012 cases.