High Court sentences Sean Quinn snr to 9 weeks in jail

 

Sean Quinn, once Ireland's richest man but now bankrupt, is beginning a nine-week jail sentence this afternoon.

Mr Quinn has decided to begin the term imposed on him now despite the fact he is to appeal to the Supreme Court against findings he acted in outrageous contempt of court orders, his lawyer said.

Having been given time to consider the matter, Eugene Grant QC, for Mr Quinn, said his client wanted to begin his jail term now as, while he was maintaining his appeal, he was also conscious of the Supreme Court's recent decision dismissing his son's finding against a three month sentence for contempt.

Counsel said Mr Quinn was a 66-year-old grandfather and was anxious to attend a grandchild's christening on December 22nd next but was not eligible for remission as this was a sentence for contempt. He asked that the court agree to release him for that event.

Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne said an application for compassionate release would have to be made to the prison authorities.

Miss Justice Dunne earlier said Mr Quinn's contempt was so serious that she could come to no other conclusion that it mandated a term of imprisonment.

She could not ignore the extent and degree of contempt by Mr Quinn and, taking all various matters into account, including his health problems, she would impose a nine-week term.

While Mr Quinn had spoken about how the court proceedings had negatively consumed his life and that of his family, she said: "In my view, he has only himself to blame."

It was not disputed significant assets had been put beyond the reach of IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, and the position of the Quinn defendants appeared to be they were so successful in that regard, they themselves could not retrieve the assets, the judge said. However, she did not have to decide that issue now.

The situation was IBRC claimed it was owed €2.8 billion by the Quinns and, while there was dispute about that, it was accepted €455 million was owed.

The judge had said she was imposing a nine-week term but the issue of whether there would be a serious dispute about that, it was accepted the Quinns owed €455 million to the bank, she said. Putting assets beyond the reach of the bank in defiance of the court's orders was, as she had previously found, "nothing short of outrageous".

It was important to ensure court orders were complied with and the integrity of the court system was not set at naught by "an egregious breach of court orders".

A stay on the nine-week term pending an appeal against the findings of contempt was adjourned earlier today after Mr Quinn's lawyer said he wanted time to consider whether to go to jail immediately or proceed with the appeal.

Shane Murphy SC, for IBRC, had said it would agree to a stay provided Mr Quinn's lawyers progressed any appeal urgently.

However, at 12.50 today, Mr Grant said his client would begin his term now while maintaining the appeal.

In her decision today, the judge referred to her previous findings of contempt against Mr Quinn and her rejection of his evidence in the contempt hearing as not credible, evasive and uncooperative. She had also found he had given his imprimatur to the asset-stripping scheme.

She stressed the only issue she was dealing with today was the punitive aspect of the case as coercive matters have been adjourned. She was dealing with punitive issues arising from past non-compliance with court orders.

The judge delivered her ruling in a courtroom packed with lawyers, journalists and supporters of Mr Quinn. Mr Quinn's son Sean and sons in law Niall McPartland and Stephen Kelly were also in court.

IBRC was represented in court today by its chief executive Mike Aynsley and senior executive Richard Woodhouse.

Mr Quinn was jailed arising from the judge's findings last June that acted in contempt of court orders made in June and July 2011 restraining stripping of assets valued up to US$430 million from companies in the IPG.

Mr Quinn told reporters following the sentence that he just wanted to get on with the sentence. He intends to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.