Seán Quinn junior freed from jail

Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 01:00

Seán Quinn jnr was released from prison today as his father, Seán Quinn snr, was spared jail following a High Court hearing.

Shortly after noon, Mr Quinn jnr was freed from custody and walked out of the Four Courts holding hands with his wife, Karen. The couple got in to a sports utility vehicle along with Mr Quinn snr without speaking to waiting media.

In the court, Mr Quinn jnr's barrister had apologised to the court for his client's casual attire - a Ralph Lauren black fleece, white T-shirt and blue jeans - as he had been brought from Mountjoy’s training unit on foot of a production which was recommended by the Attorney General.

Earlier the High Court adjourned Seán Quinn snr's contempt of court hearing and gave his new legal team two weeks to examine the case.

His son, Mr Quinn jnr, was released from prison later today pending a further High Court hearing to decide whether he, his father and cousin have adequately complied with court orders aimed at restraining the stripping of multi-million assets from the Quinn family's international property group.

The order jailing Mr Quinn jnr expired at midnight last night, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne was told by new lawyers for Mr Quinn and his father today.

The judge said she thought it was to expire at midnight tonight but she said it was a matter for the prison authorities to release Mr Quinn on expiry of the order. If it expired last night, "so be it", she said.

On the application of lawyers for the two Quinns, who, the court heard, were instructed just last Tuesday, the judge has adjourned to November 1st a hearing to determine what compliance there has been with some 30 coercive orders made by her on July 20th to reverse the asset stripping.

She said the lawyers were entitled to a brief period to prepare for that hearing but said it would only be a short adjournment because she has "grave concerns" given what Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) had said about developments since July 20th, including that a freezing order obtained by the bank on a controversial $500,000 payment to a general director of Quinn Properties Ukraine had been lifted by the Ukrainian courts.

The judge also said she was granting the adjournment to await the Supreme Court's written judgment on October 24th next that is expected to provide some guidance as to how the coercive orders would be dealt with. That judgment will also outline the reasons for the Supreme Court's decision earlier this week upholding the three-month imprisonment of Mr Quinn jnr but setting aside most of the coercive orders as they related to him.

Seán Quinn snr, his son, daughter Aoife and sons-in-law Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland were today all in court, which was packed with lawyers, representatives of the bank, journalists and several supporters of the Quinns.

Peter Darragh Quinn was not in court and is not being represented by the new legal team. A warrant was issued for his arrest in July, but it remains unexecuted as he continues to live at his home across the Border in Northern Ireland.

Paul Gallagher, for IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, said Seán Quinn snr had done nothing to purge his contempt and reverse the asset stripping since the July 20th coercive orders were made. The bank was very concerned matters were still happening, that assets could be irretrievably lost and was very anxious any adjournment to allow the new lawyers take full instructions would be brief, the court was told.

Eugene Grant QC, for Mr Quinn and his son, said he was instructed the Quinns had signed all documents put in front of them by the bank except for one that Mr Quinn was seeking legal advice about. Mr Quinn snr was 66 years old and has had two serious heart operations and had firmly instructed his lawyers he wants to co-operate and purge his contempt, Mr Grant said.

The Quinns had also sought to mediate the issues with the bank, Mr Grant added. He sought a four-week adjournment, but the judge said she would grant two weeks only.

The judge had said last July she would not jail Seán Quinn snr at that stage so as to leave him free to take steps to reverse the asset-stripping scheme. It remains a possibility the bank could apply to jail Quinn snr later.

Additional reporting: PA