A brother of bankrupt developer Seán Dunne has been awarded €10,000 by the High Court over intimidation of him and his family by the “debt collection agency” run by the criminal Martin ‘The Viper’ Foley.
Seamus Dunne, of Castlecomer Rd, Kilkenny, was entitled to the damages against a man who engaged the services of Foley in an attempt to recover a €320,000 land deal debt, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan said.
Larry McDonald, of Glenbrook, Ballyroan, Co Laois, “took the law into his own hands and employed a so-called debt collection agency operated by a notorious criminal, Martin ‘The Viper’ Foley to harass and intimidate Mr Dunne in particular into discharging the debt,” the judge said.
However, Mr Justice Noonan dismissed the main part of the case brought by Mr Dunne and another businessman, Tom O’Driscoll, Ard Sidhe, Cashel Rd, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, in which they claimed they were entitled to €3m damages against Mr McDonald, his wife Deirdre MacDonald, and Barney McDonald.
Mr Dunne and Mr O’Driscoll claimed that as a result of a breach of an agreement whereby the McDonalds would vacate their family home six months after a deal to buy the house and adjoining land, they had lost out on an opportunity to sell it on to a developer for €3m.
Mr Justice Noonan said their claim lacked any credibility but Mr Dunne was entitled to €10,000 for the intimidation by Foley’s agency.
In 2009, the McDonalds won a High Court judgment against the two businessmen for €320,000.
This debt arose out of a 2006 land deal in which Mr Dunne and Mr O’Driscoll agreed to buy Mr McDonald’s home at Ballyroan, along with 26 acres beside it for €2.5m.
The businessmen had a few weeks previously concluded a €1.3m deal in which Mr McDonald and his family agreed to sell 15 acres of land in Ballyroan, which were zoned for development.
As part of the deal, Mr O’Driscoll and Mr Dunne agreed that Rolan Homes, the developer the men were selling the land to, would build three houses there for Mr McDonald.
Later, it was agreed between the parties that the three houses obligation would be bought out for €350,000. Only €30,000, in March 2008, was paid to enable Mr McDonald to complete a new house he was having built.
Mr Justice Noonan said it would appear matters rested there for a further year with no further steps taken to ensure the McDonalds vacated their house.
In 2009, Mr McDonald employed Foley’s agency and on a number of occasions that year, Mr Dunne was visited at his home, and at his wholesale electrical business in Kilkenny, by a woman and two men in a van with large red letters on it, including the word ‘Viper’.
Mr Justice Noonan said all the evidence pointed to the fact that the McDonalds remained in occupation of the house “on an agreed basis after the expiry of the initial six-month period”.
This was in circumstances where the remaining €320,000 had not been paid.
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