Criminal sued over damage caused in house search

A Corkman serving a four-year sentence for money-laundering sued the State for damage caused to his house when gardaí carried out a search for money they believed was hidden there.

But Judge David Riordan dismissed the case brought by Jonathan Heaphy, aged 34, and said he was satisfied gardaí acted in good faith.

“Mr Heaphy appears to be of the view that ‘my house was trashed, they found nothing, I need to be compensated...’. He has that expectation but that is not the law: he has to prove that gardaí came to his house in bad faith. Bad faith would have been, in an extreme example, that they knew there was nothing there but they trashed the place anyway. It has not been proved that the guards went with an animus to do damage without cause,” he said at Cork Circuit Court.

Heaphy said 10 gardaí were involved in a nine-hour search of his home at 11 Kerryhall Road, Fairhill, Cork, on April 11, 2014. He said he refused to sign a document afterwards saying he was happy with it.

“The house was wrecked, it was destroyed. There was holes in walls, boards pulled up in the floor. They drilled holes in the plasterboard. When they took out the drawers [in the divan bed] you couldn’t put in the drawers no more. They took wallpaper down as well. Trying to put the floor down, all the clips were broken, it wasn’t going back. I moved over to my mother’s house — it was too dangerous to live in. I didn’t put the skirting boards back properly, they are just resting against the wall,” said Heaphy.

Philip O’Doherty, consulting engineer, said a builder’s quoted price of €12,000 for repairs seemed about right for what he described as “almost the destruction of the whole inside of the house”.

Siobhán Lankford, for the State, said this was exaggerated and that gardaí used fibre-optic cameras rather than removing large sections of plasterboard.

She said Heaphy pleaded guilty to money-laundering arising out of money and post office books found in homes of other family members. She said that in searches of those houses the previous month, cash and post office books were found in concealed locations. For instance: €29,500 in cash rolled up inside the leg of a TV stand and post office books in a sock behind the kick-boards in a kitchen.

Heaphy said he bought his house in 2013 for €70,000, in cash. He said he was on €186 per week in disability payments at the time and the house was paid for out of money which included compensation of €10,000 he got for car accident injuries and a total of €40,000 received by other family members from the same accident. He said gardaí found nothing in the search of his house.

Det Sgt Clodagh O’Sullivan said in the course of this money-laundering probe where their information was that money was concealed in the structure of the house they went into Heaphy’s house with the intention of causing as little damage as possible. She said 1in holes were drilled in walls as access for a fibre-optic camera.


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