Trespasser jailed for refusing to leave house

A middle-aged woman was jailed yesterday for contempt of a court order requiring her to leave a house in a Cork suburb that she was occupying unlawfully.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin held Helena O’Callaghan in contempt of an order requiring her to leave a house at Kilmoney Woods, Carrigaline.

“You are trespassing in breach of a court order,” the judge said at Cork Circuit Court.

Ms O’Callaghan said: “It is my home, it is my home.” She said that since she began occupying the house during the summer she had cleaned up toxic waste and mended windows.

The judge said: “I find the accused in breach of the court order [to vacate the property] and in contempt of court. You don’t want to vacate the premises, I am making the order [to jail her for contempt]”.

The judge said she could purge her contempt and be released from prison if she gave an undertaking to vacate the premises.

Miriam O’Regan, barrister for the plaintiff, Dwyer Properties Ltd, acting through its statutory receiver, Frank Ryan of Sherry Fitzgerald DTZ, said solicitor Seán Durcan, Garda Inspector Bill Duane, and several officers had tried to regain possession of the house on Oct 29 but she refused to move. Ms O’Regan said the attempt was abandoned because it was deemed unsafe to engage with Ms O’Callaghan and others who were in an upper floor of the property which has not been fully completed.

Ms O’Callaghan, who was named as the defendant in the proceedings, with an address at Mount Rivers, Carrigaline, presented the judge with what she described as a notice of mistake claiming that she was not the defendant in the action. Judge Ó Donnabháin said he was satisfied she was.

In the civil proceedings it is claimed she took up occupation of the property on Jul 29 and erected a sign declaring, “Project Community Renewal and Regeneration Programme”.

Earlier yesterday she had been found in contempt for truculent behaviour in court when she shouted at solicitor Seán Durcan. She purged this contempt after a short period in custody but then she was jailed for contempt for refusing to give an undertaking to leave the house.

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