Sean Dunne: Deliberations continue in US civil trial

Jury requests more information in trial of property tycoon and his wife Gayle Killilea

Sean Dunne leaves the US federal courthouse in New Haven, after giving testimony in his civil trial. Photograph: Douglas Healey

Sean Dunne leaves the US federal courthouse in New Haven, after giving testimony in his civil trial. Photograph: Douglas Healey

 

The jury in the US civil trial of bankrupt property development tycoon Sean Dunne and his wife Gayle Killilea were locked in deliberations for a third day on Monday.

They have returned several times to court to seek guidance from the judge or access to elements of the evidence.

Jurors sent out a note on Monday afternoon, asking about evidence on certain loans that Mr Dunne gave Ms Killilea. The jury requested exhibits and testimony regarding loans that one of Mr Dunne’s companies transferred to his wife.

US district court judge Jeffrey Meyer held a short session in which he consulted with lawyers in the case and called the jury into the courtroom. He then read evidence numbers of the relevant documents and directed jurors to testimony on the subject given by Ms Killilea and Mr Dunne’s employee, Ross Connolly.

The 10 jurors then returned to the jury room for further deliberation.

A short time later, another note emerged form the room in which the jurors were deliberating, seeking permission to read back testimony on the loans at the heart of the case.

It was the fifth note they have sent to the judge since they went into deliberations last Thursday. It was then decided to adjourn proceedings until Tuesday, when the jury members will read the testimony on the loans.

The 10 jurors are being asked to render separate decisions on each of about 10 properties and pots of money, including the Walford home in Shrewsbury Road, Dublin 4, which was purchased for €58 million and later sold for €14 million.

They must do so using different standards of proof and look-back periods derived from the laws of three countries: the United States, the Republic and Switzerland.

At issue in the trial is whether Mr Dunne and Ms Killilea transferred tens of millions dollars of his assets to her to shield them from creditors while, and as, his once hugely successful property development business imploded in the late 2000s.

The trustee in Mr Dunne’s 2013 US bankruptcy says they did, and is seeking to return the funds to the bankruptcy estate and distribute them to creditors, including the National Asset Management Agency and Ulster Bank, who are underwriting the litigation.

Mr Dunne and Ms Killilea deny the allegations, saying that he was solvent when he made the transfers and they were intended to assure the independence of his wife and their children’s future.

The notes punctuated what was an otherwise uneventful day at the court in New Haven, Connecticut. where the case was heard.

Lawyers in the proceedings largely kept to their waiting rooms, occasionally emerging into the hallway to make a phone call or stretch their legs.

Ms Killilea and Mr Dunne did not attend Monday’s brief court session, and it was unclear if they were in the courthouse.

The proceeding entered its fifth week on Monday.