Dunne fails to quash search warrant for house

The High Court has dismissed developer Sean Dunne’s bid to quash a warrant under which the official in charge of his Irish bankruptcy searched a house where various assets were seized.

Dunne fails to quash   search warrant for house

Mr Dunne, who has been declared a bankrupt in Ireland and the US where he now lives, had challenged a warrant granted to the official assignee, Chris Lehane, allowing search of a property at Churchfield, Straffan, Co Kildare, last November when various assets, including artworks were seized.

Mr Dunne claims he is not the owner of the property and it is held in trust for his children by an Isle of Man-registered company, Traviata. Wife Gayle Dunne, son John Dunne, and Traviata have made claims in respect of some the items seized.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern dismissed claims that the search warrant was invalid or defective on its face.

He also dismissed applications for Mr Lehane to be cross-examined about various issues.

Mr Dunne had claimed the warrant, issued at a High Court hearing held in private where only Mr Lehane was represented, was defective and based on hearsay evidence.

It was also argued that there should be an opportunity to challenge claims made by Mr Lehane in obtaining the warrant.

Mr Lehane argued against what he considered would be a wide-ranging and “roving” cross-examination. and insisted the warrant was valid.

In his judgment, Mr Justice McGovern said nothing was put before the court to show the warrant was invalid and the judge who issued it was entitled to rely on material such as hearsay evidence.

It was neither necessary nor desirable in the interests of justice to order Mr Lehane be cross-examined in respect of the warrant, he also ruled.

Mr Dunne sought to establish the source of Mr Lehane’s information grounding his application for the search warrant and “no useful purpose” could be served by directing cross-examination on that issue.

The warrant had been executed and in so far as there was a dispute concerning the fruits of it, those issues could be resolved in due course, either between the parties or by the court, he said.

The beneficial ownership of the Kildare property and seized items may have to be determined in the future but those disputes were not relevant to the validity of the search warrant and constituted no valid reason why Mr Lehane should be cross-examined. The matter has been adjourned to May.

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