A bankruptcy official’s application to set aside alleged asset transfers by one of the men found liable for the Omagh bombing has been settled.
The application by official assignee Michael Larkin alleged that Michael Colm Murphy, a discharged bankrupt, made transfers, including property, to his former wife, Anne Murphy, and his sister-in-law, Rita Hoey.
The women denied the allegations and were due to contest the matter at hearing this week and last week before the Commercial Court. The hearing did not proceed, as several days of out-of-court discussions between the parties led to a resolution of the case. No details of the confidential settlement were given in court.
The 2020 action, which was initially brought by Denis Ryan, who was previously in charge of Mr Murphy’s bankruptcy, claimed that five asset transfers occurred when civil and criminal proceedings were pending against Mr Murphy for his alleged role in the atrocity carried out by the Real IRA.
Mr Murphy was cleared of all criminal charges in connection with the bombing. He had been convicted in connection with the bombing by the Special Criminal Court in 2002. This was later overturned on appeal.
Following a long legal battle, Mr Murphy, who was a successful businessman, was in 2013 found by Belfast’s High Court to be liable along with three other men for the bombing. Mr Murphy, Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell and Seamus Daly were ordered to pay Stg£1.6 million in damages to 12 relatives of those killed by the bomb.
Failure to pay
Due to their failure to pay, bankruptcy proceedings were taken in this jurisdiction against Mr Murphy, Mr McKevitt and Mr Campbell. All three were adjudicated as bankrupt in 2019.
The official assignee’s High Court proceedings were against Ms Murphy, of Jordan’s Corner, Dulargy, Ravensdale, Dundalk, Co Louth, and Ms Hoey, of Cloughinney Road, Forkhill, Newry, Co Down.
The official assignee, represented by Edward Farrelly SC, alleged that the transfers to Ms Murphy and Ms Hoey were an attempt to frustrate Mr Murphy’s creditors, including relatives of 12 of the victims of the 1998 bombing, which claimed 29 lives and injured 300 others.
He wanted the court to declare, among other things, that he was the beneficial owner of the assets in question, which were to be held in trust for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate.
It was alleged that the assets, which included Mr Murphy’s family home, 30 acres of land and shares he had in companies, were transferred on dates between April 1999 and October 2001. It was also claimed that Mr Murphy transferred IR£340,000 in cash to a trust for the benefit of his children. The claims were denied.