McFeely wins contempt appeal
Property developer Thomas McFeely has avoided a prison term after successfully overturning a contempt of court judgment.
Mr McFeely - an ex-billionaire who was yesterday declared bankrupt in Dublin - has successfully appealed a judgment that he broke court orders, and avoided a three-month sentence and a €1 million fine.
The ruling was delivered in Supreme Court this morning.
Mr McFeely, who served 12 years in the Maze Prison for shooting an RUC officer in Derry, spent 53 days without food during the 1980 hunger strikes.
The latest case centres on Mr McFeely’s Priory Hall development in Donaghmede, north Dublin.
About 300 people were left homeless and had to be re-housed when they were evacuated from the complex last October amid warnings it was fire hazard.
The developer was ordered by the High Court in Dublin to carry out remedial works, but was sentenced and fined when he did not.
Barristers for Mr McFeely appealed it was impossible for their client to comply with orders because he had been evicted from the site.
The Chief Justice, Mrs Susan Denham, said once the appellant was ordered off the site it immediately became impossible for Mr McFeely to complete the work he had undertaken to do so.
The judge said: “This appeal does not relate to the issue of providing a remedy for the deeply concerning situation which has arisen in relation to Priory Hall, and the position of the residents and owners who have been removed from their homes.
“This appeal relates solely to the issue of a finding of a contempt of court. I am satisfied that as a matter of fact he could not be held to be in breach of the order as he had been ordered by the court from the site.
“There was no factual foundation upon which to make a finding of contempt of court or a breach of an undertaking.”
Priory Hall residents had expected the developer to be arrested at the Four Courts after a bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to comply with an order to pay instalments on a debt of just over €24,000 to a Dublin recruitment company.
Mr McFeely briefly jostled with journalists and photographers as he left the courts complex, before slamming the door of a waiting car which sped off.