Farmer jailed for a week over ‘campaign’ to frustrate sale of lands

Seamus Kane denied he broke locks or erected Irish Tricolour flags on the lands

John Alex Kane pictured arriving at the Four Courts on Wednesday. The judge adjourned to next week an application to jail him for alleged contempt of court orders. Photograph: Collins Courts

John Alex Kane pictured arriving at the Four Courts on Wednesday. The judge adjourned to next week an application to jail him for alleged contempt of court orders. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A farmer has been jailed until next week pending a final decision by the president of the High Court on what sanction should be applied for contempt of his undertakings intended to prevent interference with a receiver’s efforts to sell lands in Co Longford.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he had “considerable misgivings” about a medical certificate provided to him by Seamus Kane and wanted to hear from the doctor involved before making a final decision on the committal application by a Revenue-appointed receiver against Mr Kane.

Receiver Myles Kirby brought the application as part of his efforts to recover judgment for more than €4.97 million obtained by the Revenue in July 2009 against Mr Kane’s brother, John Alex Kane, a car dealer also known as Alex Kane.

Seamus Kane was before the court on Wednesday over contempt of undertakings given by him last December not to go onto lands near Granard, Co Longford, owned by his brother.

Mr Justice Kelly said he was satisfied Seamus Kane’s admitted entry onto the lands was part of a “campaign” to frustrate recovery of judgment and intimidate potential purchasers of the lands.

He also had “considerable misgivings” about the authenticity of a “curious” purported medical certificate provided by Mr Kane, which included the misspelling of the words alcoholism and regularly.

Mr Kane had told the judge he got the certificate and further medication for depression after attending the doctor last Monday.

The judge said he would defer a final decision to next week when he wanted to hear from the doctor named in the certificate.

Mr Kane was to be detained in Mountjoy Prison until then when he was wanted back before the court, the judge directed.

Recurrence

Gary McCarthy SC, for the receiver, earlier sought the jailing order, saying sanction was required to prevent a recurrence of such behaviour.

Mr Kane’s solicitor, Bríd Mimnagh, said she was convinced he was contrite and would honour his undertakings into the future.

In evidence, Mr Kane apologised for entering onto the lands, saying he did so to cut grass and clean up the lands, was not in his right mind when he did so and was drinking a lot around that time. He denied he broke locks to do so or had anything to do with erecting Irish Tricolour flags on the lands.

His brother owned the lands but did not farm them, he himself had worked them for more than 10 years, put money into them and losing them was “like a death”, he said. However, he had resolved to forget about the lands and get on with his life.

During exchanges with Mr Kane, the judge told him: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

He said Mr Kane was previously jailed for breaching earlier undertakings not to go onto the lands and can have been in no doubt further failure would have “most serious consequences”.

The entry onto the lands may seem at first sight not to be very serious but must be seen in light of a campaign of intimidation in the area with a view to frustrating the Revenue’s bid to recover judgment and frighten off purchasers of the lands, he said.

Contempt of court

The judge later on Wednesday adjourned to next week an application to jail John Alex Kane for alleged contempt of court orders.

Mr McCarthy said Mr Kane had met some but not all of his obligations under an agreement with the Revenue and had not filed tax returns from early 2017 as required.

Mr Kane said his obligations were to pay monies and file tax returns and he had done so.

He said he had nothing do with horses having been put on lands and did not own a 2017 Range Rover of which the receiver wants possession. He agreed he had told the court he had sold that vehicle to a relative and it was in the UK.

He agreed vehicle tracking information suggested the vehicle was not in the UK but reiterated he did not own it.

The judge has separately fixed for hearing next October an application concerning a former pub property in Co Cavan since converted into a car garage. The receiver maintains that is owned by John Alex Kane but his wife, Lucy Pinfold, maintains she is the owner.

The judge granted a request of Michael Finucane, solicitor for Ms Pinfold, for that matter to be heard by another judge.

Mr Finucane confirmed his request was made because of previous adverse comments by the judge, in the context of another application, concerning Ms Pinfold’s reliability and truthfulness.