Couple could face jail for not vacating home, judge warns

Judge warns man not to threaten him during fraught proceedings over repossession of house

Counsel for KBC Bank said it did  not want to see the couple jailed but  had no choice other than taking the proceedings where there is a clear breach of a court order.  File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Counsel for KBC Bank said it did not want to see the couple jailed but had no choice other than taking the proceedings where there is a clear breach of a court order. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A High Court judge has urged a couple to get legal advice or face the prospect of being jailed for contempt over their alleged failure to obey an order to vacate their Co Dublin home.

Following a sometimes fraught hearing on Thursday, Mr Justice Tony O’Connor adjourned proceedings by KBC Bank against Linda Hussey Smith and Gordon Smith.

KBC Bank Ireland last month got a High Court injunction against the couple, and against anti-eviction campaigner Ben Gilroy, requiring them and any other persons to leave the couple’s home at Hamlet Avenue, Chieftain’s Way, Balbriggan.

Rossa Fanning SC, for the bank, said it had in 2016 obtained a Circuit Court order for possession of the property over failure to make mortgage repayments.

KBC obtained possession last February but claims its security staff were forced to leave after persons had kicked, punched and spat at them. It then got the injunction against the couple and Mr Gilroy who, it was claimed, was seen on the premises requiring them leave by late March.

The bank claims the couple failed to comply with the order and brought motions alleging contempt against them. Representing themselves, they deny contempt and want the injunction set aside.

Perjury

Mrs Smith told Mr O’Connor on Thursday information relevant to the injunction was withheld from the court during the injunction proceedings and that perjury was committed when the case was before the Circuit Court.

Mrs Smith also said she was assaulted when attempts were made to take possession of the property on behalf of the bank.

Earlier, her husband was removed from the court by gardaí after he refused on several occasions to answer questions from the judge on whether he would abide by the court order. He instead insisted the judge answers his questions.

At one stage, the judge warned Mr Smith not to threaten him. Mr Smith denied he had threatened the judge.

During the Garda intervention, several supporters of the couple shouted and roared at the judge.

Mr Fanning said KBC denies the couple’s claims. While it does not want to see the couple jailed, it had no choice other than taking the proceedings where there is a clear breach of a court order, counsel outlined.

Mr Justice O’Connor, seeking to restore calm, adjourned the matter to next week to allow Mrs Smith obtain legal advice on what he described as a “most serious” matter.