Quinn jailed for 'outrageous and serious contempt'
SEÁN QUINN CASE:SEÁN QUINN has begun a nine-week period of imprisonment after a High Court judge ruled that his contempt of court orders, restraining stripping of multimillion assets from his family’s international property group, was so serious and outrageous that she must jail him.
While Mr Quinn had spoken about how the court proceedings had negatively consumed his life and that of his family, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said: “In my view, he has only himself to blame.”
Ms Justice Dunne said she could not ignore the extent and degree of contempt by Mr Quinn and, taking all various matters into account, including mitigating factors such as his health problems, age, previous good character, charitable donations and that there had been “a degree” of co-operation by him, she would impose a nine-week jail term.
Ms Justice Dunne delivered her ruling just after 11am yesterday but the issue of whether a stay on that term pending appeal would apply was adjourned until 12.50pm at the request of Mr Quinn’s lawyers.
Eugene Grant QC said he wanted to take instructions as to whether Mr Quinn would begin the term of imprisonment immediately or wished to seek a stay pending his appeal against the judge’s findings last June that he acted in “outrageous” contempt.
Irish Bank Resolution Corporation had indicated through Shane Murphy SC that it would agree to a stay provided an appeal was progressed speedily.
When the court reconvened at 12.50pm, Mr Grant said Mr Quinn wanted to begin serving his sentence. While Mr Quinn was proceeding with his Supreme Court appeal, he was doing so in recognition of the recent Supreme Court decision dismissing his son’s appeal against being jailed. There were issues common to the appeals, added Mr Grant.
He said Mr Quinn (66) had a number of grandchildren and he was anxious to attend a grandchild’s christening on December 22nd. As he was not eligible for remission due to this being a sentence for contempt, Mr Grant asked that the court agree to release him for that event.
Mr Murphy said compassionate release was a matter for the prison authorities to decide and the judge agreed.
Having reviewed matters since her decision last June finding Mr Quinn in contempt of court orders of June and July 2011, restraining asset-stripping from the family’s International Property Group so as to put them beyond the bank’s reach, Ms Justice Dunne in her ruling yesterday said she regarded Mr Quinn’s contempt as so serious she could only conclude it mandated a term of imprisonment.
This case was about protecting assets which could be used to satisfy any judgment obtained by the bank against the Quinns, she said. IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, claimed it was owed €2.8 billion by the Quinns and, while there was a serious dispute about that which she did not have to decide now, it was accepted that €455 million was owed by the Quinns to the bank.
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”. The bank had had to engage in extensive litigation trying to recover assets but had not to date succeeded.