by Tom Tuite
An events promoter has avoided the threat of being jailed over a €250,000 debt to comedian Mario Rosenstock after being declared bankrupt.
Dublin District Court heard that concert and events promoter Darryl Downey owed the money to Blue Elf Inc Ltd, a company owned by mimic Rosenstock. However, he was unable to keep up with a repayments schedule ordered by the district court.
Rosenstock’s firm had tried to have Downey jailed as a result of the arrears, and a judge had warned the promoter earlier that he had a draft warrant for arrest and committal on file.
Today, however, his barrister Tessa White told Judge Michael Coghlan that since the case was last before the court in March, Mr Downey, who did not address the court, has been adjudicated bankrupt and his creditors have been notified.
A copy of bankruptcy order was furnished to the court.
Judge Coghlan said that for that reason he could make no order in relation to the matter.
The debt related to a number of live shows going back to 2012 as a result of which about €750,000 was owed to Blue Elf Inc Ltd. Some €500,000 was paid over but Mr Downey said he did not presently have the funds to pay the rest.
At a previous hearing, in December, Judge Coghlan said Downey was a “failed promoter” and he adjourned the case “to enable him to get a job, any job” which pays a “normal weekly wage”.
On March 14, Judge Coghlan had again warned Mr Downey that he has a duty to enforce the matter.
Downey’s counsel Tessa White had explained he has been applying for full-time jobs and had found a part-time work earning €250 a week. Ms White said her client did not have significant experience in other sectors and was making efforts to address his debt.
Counsel for Blue Elf Ltd, Jane Linnane, had pointed out that Downey, who had been residing rent-free at an address in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, had just looked for work in the entertainment industry.
In March, Judge Coghlan had agreed to vary the instalment order reducing it to €100 a week. He had reminded Downey that this was the third time the order had been changed and “the position in relation to incarceration stays the same”.
He was concerned that money had been taken from a company controlled by Downey and used to pay other creditors. It would be treated as a contempt of court if it happened again, the judge also said.
Comedian Mr Rosenstock, who rose to fame with his Gift Grub sketches on TodayFM and now has a successful show on RTE, was not present when the case resumed on Tuesday.
At a previous hearing, Judge Coghlan said Downey was a “failed promoter” and he had ordered him “to get a job, any job” which pays a “normal weekly wage”. He had also warned that he would run out of patience if he continued to hear Downey “is continuing to hope for the next big deal”.
The debt with Blue Elf Inc Ltd is the subject of a High Court judgement and in January last year the district court had granted a variation on an instalment order reducing the monthly repayment from €5,000 to €1,500.
Counsel for Blue Elf Inc Ltd had said that between January 2016 until the hearing in December there had just been a total of €5,400 paid by Downey to her client.
Since September just €900 was paid while during the same period Downey made payments to another creditor who was not the subject of a judgement, the court heard. Blue Elf’s counsel had submitted this money should have gone to her client. She also said that he has increased his living expenses and that money should have also been used to pay the debt to Blue Elf Inc Ltd.
She had said Blue Elf Inc Ltd and the court's orders have been continuously ignored and she said it was in those circumstances that a committal warrant was being sought.
She has also said that in September Downey went to America and spent about €11,000.
Downey had claimed he could not afford to pay any more. The court heard he had been a self-employed concert and events promoter since 2003.
His company Jarash Ltd had about €28,000 but his counsel explained those funds were needed to get shows off the ground, the court heard earlier. Yesterday/today (TUE) the judge was told Mr Downey has resigned as its director.
Mr Downey has also claimed that he was led to believe by his accountant that he was due to receive a €200,000 VAT refund but that did not materialise. He said that since the instalment order was made he has had to borrow €4,000 from his mother.
He said that the role he had has stopped because of the cancellation of the 2015 Killarney Festival of Music and Food.
His barrister had told the court that Downey brought great success for people who went on to become household names but he was perhaps unaware of the pecking order in relation to his debts.