Former K Club manager ‘lied continually’ in case alleging threats, judge rules
Dismissal of case taken by Peter Curran means he could face substantial legal costs bill
Peter Curran (51), of Cahirciveen, Co Kerry, could now face a substantial legal costs bill for the 25-day hearing before the High Court involving four legal teams and six senior counsel.
A High Court judge has dismissed an action by a former manager at the K Club after finding he “lied continually” during his action alleging he had been threatened at Punchestown Races seven years ago.
The judge found Mr Curran had sent five bogus emails in a “desperate attempt” to entice Mr Byrne into making an “inculpatory statement” which would also incriminate the luxury resort owner, millionaire businessman Michael Smurfit.
Such a statement would have ended the litigation and resulted in a “windfall of damages” to Mr Curran, he said.
As part of that “stratagem”, Mr Curran planted a story with gardaí about his iPad being taken from him during that period, the judge noted.
The technical evidence, while not perfect, was strongly suggestive of Mr Curran having sent the emails, and he was satisfied Mr Curran sent the emails to Mr Byrne, Mr Justice Barr said.
He found Mr Curran “lied continually” in relation to what he told various parties and also in his evidence to the court on the matter.
The court had to have regard to the fact Mr Curran is capable of “engaging in deceptive and manipulative conduct to achieve his desired goals”.
“He is also prepared to lie to cover his tracks. He lied to the court repeatedly in his evidence on the emails issue.”
The court was also satisfied Mr Curran had lied on a number of other occasions.
Mr Curran had sued his former employer, the K Club Ltd, Straffan, Co Kildare; Dr Michael Smurfit and Mr Byrne.
Mr Curran had claimed that, on May 7th, 2011, his way was blocked in the toilets at Punchestown Races and Mr Byrne allegedly said “Dr Smurfit has not forgotten the statements about him and the call girls. Dr Smurfit knows where to find you and this is not over.”
All three defendants had denied all the claims.
Dismissing the action against all defendants, Mr Justice Barr said he was satisfied Mr Byrne did not have any interaction or conversation with Mr Curran on May 7th, 2011.
He accepted the evidence of Mr Byrne “that he did not threaten Mr Curran in the manner alleged or at all on the day in question”.
Insofar as there was an allegation of a physical assault, the judge said that was “a lie” and the court must find Mr Curran will lie when it suits his case and must approach his evidence with caution.
There was a “ lack of consistency” in Mr Curran’s accounts of the alleged incident at Punchestown Races, he said.
By February 2012, Mr Curran’s allegation had changed to include an assertion Mr Byrne had said he was bringing a message from Mr Smurfit.
This was a “very significant” change in his account. By adding that “small but significant detail”, Mr Curran had put himself in a position to mount a claim for damages against Mr Smurfit.
Mr Curran had not furnished any convincing evidence why that significant detail was only included after September 2011 and before February 2012, the judge said.
“Its late insertion into the narrative is consistent with it being something deliberately added to the story between those dates so as to give Mr Curran a right of action against Mr Smurfit,” the judge stated.
The judge referred to Mr Curran’s distressed condition in the hours and days after May 7th, 2011.
Whether that was due to Mr Curran seeing Mr Byrne in the toilets of Punchestown Races and, as he was not on his medication at the time, he had a psychological reaction and subsequently decided to blame Mr Byrne and Mr Smurfit for that by inventing a threat against him, was not a question the court had to determine.
It was “equally possible” Mr Curran simply saw Mr Byrne in the toilet and saw that as an opportunity to mount a fraudulent claim which he did by inventing the story of the threat and pretending to have an exacerbation of his pre-existing psychiatric condition, the judge said. The court did not have to decide which of these “fraudulent possibilities” is the more likely, the judge concluded.