Guard was sleeping on the job, hearing told

A security expert who protected one of the richest men in the world found a guard asleep on the job at JP McManus’s €100m home at Martinstown Stud, Co Limerick.

Guard was sleeping on the job, hearing told

Elaborate security at the 40,000sq ft McManus home was divulged at a hearing in Limerick at which a security guard is challenging his dismissal for allegedly falling asleep on duty.

The hearing heard that security at Martinstown included an electronic beam which circles the 500-acre estate and sets off an alarm if breached by an intruder.

Eleven security guards patrol the estate and clock in at certain checkpoints during their rounds four times a night. Meanwhile, CCTV feeds pictures from surveillance cameras to security observers.

Daniel Elliot, a London-based consultant who provided security for the sultan of Brunei, said he was engaged by Mr McManus in 2009 to upgrade security at Martinstown.

During an unannounced, late-night “penetration” exercise, Mr Elliot allegedly found security man John Alymer, aged 32, of Ballyvistea, Emly, Co Tipperary, asleep in his security hut. Even the continued loud barking of a security dog failed to wake Mr Alymer, he said.

“Penetration” exercises are carried out unknown to security staff to detect weaknesses in security.

The hearing heard the matter was taken very seriously as they “would not get a second change in a real break-in or a kidnapping attempt at Martinstown”.

Mr Alymer claims he was unfairly dismissed and did not get proper notice from Noreen McManus, wife of JP McManus.

The hearing heard there were two previous incidents involving Mr Alymer before it was decided to sack him.

Mairead McKenna, barrister for Mrs McManus, said Mr Alymer started work in Sep 2000 at Martinstown and was dismissed in Aug 2010. At the time he earned €548 a week.

She said the family needed substantial security for their home, where they had an extensive art collection, and the estate, where they had high-value thoroughbred horses, expensive machinery and high-value cars.

Ms McKenna said Mr Elliott went on a covert night mission with the head of security on Jun 8, 2010.

Shortly after 3am, they allegedly found Mr Alymer asleep in a security hut sound asleep. She said they could hear him snoring. A security dog was barking loudly but Mr Alymer stayed asleep, with shoes off, legs up, and arms folded.

Ms McKenna said security personnel needed to be alert. What had occurred, she said, was a gross dereliction of duty by Mr Alymer.

There had been two previous incidents concerning Mr Alymer, the hearing was told. In one, a cover had been placed over a security camera. In another, Mr Alymer claimed €1,500 for damage caused to his car at a security bollard. However, CCTV showed he was operating the bollard at the time and another person was driving the car. He was suspended for five days after that incident.

Mr Elliott told the hearing that, as well as working for the sultan of Brunei, he did security for high-profile individuals in the equine industry. He came to Martinstown in 2010 to upgrade the security system there.

Colin Morrissey, solicitor for Mr Alymer, said that his client wished to be reinstated, to which Colm Hannon, house manager in Martinstown in charge of security for the McManus family, said he would not recommend such a move.

“The incident is so serious and you don’t get a second chance in a real break in or kidnapping attempt at Martinstown,” said Mr Hannon.

The chairman of the tribunal adjourned the hearing to Feb 19, 2013.

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