‘BREAK DOWN COUGHLAN’S DOOR’

GARDAÍ have been given High Court approval to break into the lavish home of Howard Holdings king-pin Greg Coughlan, if necessary, to arrest him over unpaid loans of more than €28 million.

The Kinsale resident, whose whereabouts are unknown, has failed to obey court orders aimed at executing a judgment against him for the unpaid property loans.

Yesterday, gardaí told the High Court they had called to his multimillion-euro home at Fastnet, Ardbrack, Kinsale, Co Cork, 10 times but were not allowed entry.

A Garda witness described the house as new and substantial, with an indoor swimming pool and located in a “beautiful spot”.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he was satisfied Coughlan was evading arrest.

The judge said he would not have Coughlan “thumbing his nose” at court orders and, if there had to be forcible entry, that would be done.

The judge said the order for the arrest of Coughlan would remain in force until it was executed. If arrested, Coughlan will be brought before the court to explain why he should not be jailed for breach of the court orders.

Mr Justice Kelly said he hoped Coughlan would “see sense” and realise there was nothing to be gained by playing cat and mouse with the court which was determined to see its orders were obeyed. Coughlan had failed to swear an affidavit of his assets as ordered by the court.

Investors had brought proceedings in the Commercial Court against Coughlan, Smart Telecom purchaser Brendan Murtagh and Brian Madden, of Well Road, Douglas, Cork, over unpaid loans related to Polish property deals.

Coughlan was the only one of the three who failed to supply a statement of assets sought by Loparco SA, a Luxemburg-registered company.

A native of Ballydehob, west Cork, Coughlan, now in his early 60s, first cut his teeth in the family joinery and building business alongside his father and uncle. He later ran a building company, Greg Coughlan Construction.

He ran into difficulties when involved in the development of the Moorings in Schull in the 1980s and subsequently moved to Britain where he was highly successful.

In 1985, he started up a small development company, Headway Properties, along with Frank Gormley. The pair traded on the back of the boom of the late 1980s that followed hot on the heels of financial deregulation in Britain.

Eventually, Headway was backed into a British property plc, Howard Holdings, in what amounted to a reverse takeover.

After an initial focus on the London property market, Howard Holdings quickly expanded into Cork, Dublin, Liverpool, Newcastle, other parts of Europe, and South Africa.

An ambitious €1 billion plan for the rejuvenation of the Cork Docklands was the company’s brainchild. The plan envisaged an ultra-modern waterfront centre by building 564 apartments, a 205-bed hotel, a 5,500 capacity events centre and office space for almost 5,000 jobs, as well as a 51m-span swing bridge over the River Lee.

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