Squatter jailed for contempt over refusal to leave house

Receiver appointed to housing estate unable to obtain access to residence

Helena O’Callaghan was brought before Cork Circuit Court yesterday, where she was asked to give an undertaking to vacate a near-finished house at Kilmoney Woods housing estate in Carrigaline (marked A), south of Cork city. Image: Google Maps

Helena O’Callaghan was brought before Cork Circuit Court yesterday, where she was asked to give an undertaking to vacate a near-finished house at Kilmoney Woods housing estate in Carrigaline (marked A), south of Cork city. Image: Google Maps

 

A woman has been jailed for contempt of court after she refused to give an undertaking to vacate a house in Co Cork in which she had been squatting for the last four months.

Helena O’Callaghan was brought before Cork Circuit Court yesterday, where she was asked to give an undertaking to vacate a near-finished house at Kilmoney Woods housing estate in Carrigaline.

Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin held Ms O’Callaghan in contempt when she refused to obey a court order for possession obtained by Frank Ryan of Sherry Fitzgerald DTZ, who was appointed receiver to the developer of the estate.

“You are trespassing in breach of a court order,” said Judge Ó Donnabháin, before asking Ms O’Callaghan whether she would agree to leave the premises, which she refused.

“I am reserving my rights - it is my home, it is my home,” said Ms O’Callaghan, adding she had filed what she called “a notice of mistake”, arguing she was not the defendant.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said he was satisfied she was the defendant in the case, saying she was a trespasser, but Ms O’Callaghan refused to accept that she had trespassed on the property.

“I am not a trespasser- I have done no damage, I cleaned up toxic waste there, I repaired the premises,” said Ms O’Callaghan, with an address at Mount Rivers Estate in Carrigaline.

Facebook assistance

Miriam O’Regan BL, for the receiver, said Ms O’Callaghan had sought assistance through Facebook to occupy the house against attempts by the receiver to take possession.

The receiver had arrived with gardaí to take possession on October 29th but the attempt was abandoned because of fears of violence.

Ms O’Regan said two men who were also in the house left on November 4th, but she was satisfied Ms O’Callaghan was still in possession of the property on November 6th.

Judge Ó Donnabháin issued a final warning: “If you are not prepared to get out, you will be held in contempt of court and I will have no alternative but to hold you in prison.”

When Ms O’Callaghan again refused to agree to leave, Judge Ó Donnabháin said he was holding her in contempt and ordered her to be taken into custody.

“You will remain in custody until you purge contempt by giving an undertaking to vacate the premises,” he said, as Ms O’Callaghan was led away by gardaí.