Singer's husband denies claims of heavy drinking

Mr Don Burton and his wife, Ms Dolores O'Riordan, outside the High Court yesterday

Mr Don Burton and his wife, Ms Dolores O'Riordan, outside the High Court yesterday

 

The husband of Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan has denied an allegation by the couple's former nanny that, with a beer in one hand, he had taken their baby son Taylor out on a jetski without a life-jacket on a lake in Canada in 1999.

Canadian-born Mr Don Burton said the alleged jet ski incident did not happen. "You don't drive with a drink in one hand," he said. It was physically impossible to drive a jetski holding a child and a beer. The jet ski would topple over, he said. The jet ski had to be given "gas" and it was physically impossible to drive it as alleged.

Mr Burton (41) was giving evidence on the fifth day of the action taken against him and his wife by their former childminder, Ms Joy Fahy, for alleged breach of contract. Ms Fahy is also alleging false imprisonment against Mr Burton.

In addition to denying Ms Fahy's allegation about the jetski incident, Mr Burton denied several other allegations about his behaviour, including allegations of excessive drinking by himself and his wife. "You don't have the time to be inebriated when you are out there," he said. "You can't walk around half-drunk doing these things and you certainly can't go on and sing at 6 a.m. on a morning show."

Mr Burton said the trip to Canada in 1999 had been planned for three to five weeks and he had discussed it with Ms Fahy. Allegations of constant drinking at their holiday home in Canada were untrue, and he did not know how he could function as a family leader and be a drunk, he said. Regarding a claim by Ms Fahy that there was little food available, he said there was plenty of food at the house.

Asked by Mr Bill Shipsey SC, for the defence, what he recalled about Ms Fahy while she was in Canada, Mr Burton said everything seemed to be fine at that time. There was absolutely no tension, no row or any abuse towards Ms Fahy by any person.

On July 1st, 1999, his wife was upset and he was told Ms Fahy wanted to leave. Ms O'Riordan was in tears because she knew that her mother, who was also babysitting, was going to Lourdes, and he and his wife had a holiday planned.

He went upstairs and asked Ms Fahy what was going on. She said she was leaving. She said she did not want to be left alone in the cottage without a driver or transport while the Burtons were away. She felt she was going to be stranded.

He told her she would not be stranded, that his parents were across the street and she would not be alone. He "could not get his head around why she wanted to leave", and told her it was unprofessional. She said the situation was not working out, and so he booked her a flight for the following morning. He said he did not throw her passport at her.

He also denied a claim that, at a party on the final night, there was "swinging from the chandeliers". Earlier, Mr Burton was questioned about a two-week tour to the US (before the Canadian tour in 1999) and said he had never heard of any complaints from Ms Fahy until they got back to their home in Killmallock, Co Limerick, when she complained about the stereo in her jeep not working.

During the US tour the band members were paid $50 a day expenses while Ms Fahy and others in the family group received $35. He said the family members could do what they wanted as it was a holiday for them. He said he carried the passports for the family group and Ms Fahy had never complained about this.

When he had spoken to her abut taking up the position as nanny, she said she was making £400 per week, and he offered £500. She also inquired about her horse and he said there was plenty of room on their 158-acre property at Kilmallock. He had also asked her what she would like to drive. He mentioned a BMW to her but she had said she felt a jeep would be better for her.

He told her about the planned tour. Touring was not everything it was cracked up to be. Not everybody could live out of a suitcase for three to four months.

Mr Burton said he was married previously in 1993 and had one child from that marriage. He had worked in his father's trucking business, running the office and hiring drivers.

Since childhood he had played in a band, and when his father died he joined Duran Duran as a stage/tour manager. He became manger of the Cranberries in 1994. In 1997, his wife Dolores became pregnant, and Taylor was born in November in Toronto. They had made inquiries about a maternity nurse and contacted Ms Fahy, whom Mr Burton had already met.

He talked to her on the phone and asked if she would try it for a couple of weeks. They flew her to Canada. He thought it was working out fine. After about 10 days Ms Fahy travelled to New York, where she had friends. While she was there, Dolores realised she was not ready to share time with the baby.

Dolores told Ms Fahy she wanted to try looking after the baby without a nanny. Dolores understood Joy was "fine with it".

Dolores's mother, Eileen, took over as nanny in March 1998.

The case continues today.