Judge refuses to jail pensioners

A judge has refused to jail pensioners Martin and Violet Coyne, who faced prison for contempt of court by defying a judge’s order to have left their home by midnight on Tuesday.

Judge refuses to jail pensioners

Following pleas in the circuit civil court by and on behalf of the Coynes, Judge Jacqueline Linnane adjourned an application to commit both of the Coynes to prison until August 27.

The judge warned the Coynes they were still in contempt of court orders and told Mr Coyne he had also breached a sworn undertaking that they would be out of the house by yesterday’s hearing.

Judge Linnane told Stephen Byrne, counsel for the receiver of assets of Daragh Ward, the house owner and the Coynes’ former landlord, that the county sheriff could be asked to execute the court order for possession of the property.

If the sheriff acts, the Coynes could be on the roadside well before the adjourned court hearing, which would still seek to commit them to prison for contempt.

Martin Coyne, aged 71, and wife Violet, aged 61, have lived in the house in Carpenterstown, Dublin, for 15 years.

Mr Ward, who had a mortgage with ACC Bank, went into receivership in 2012. The receiver, Shane McCarthy, had sought possession in order to sell the house to reduce Mr Ward’s debt to the bank.

Mr Coyne was in the circuit civil court yesterday with his brother-in-law, Fred Molloy, who spoke on his behalf.

Mr Molloy said the background to the receiver’s application had presented the Coynes with “a horror story” that had not been fully ventilated to the court prior to the Private Residential Tenancies Board having granted possession, which was confirmed by Judge Linnane.

Mr Molloy said Mr Coyne was a man who sometimes did not even know his own name as he was on very heavy medication, as was his wife. The couple were pleading for an adjournment so the Legal Aid Board could provide them with a legal representative to fully explain the situation to the court.

Mr Coyne told the court: “I know I made a sworn statement I would vacate the property and I did so in good faith thinking I would get some alternative accommodation from Fingal County Council.

“I have got nothing but I have not just been sitting at home on my arse all day. I have been out there trying to get somewhere. The only thing I’m short of is money. It was never my intention to disobey the court.”

Mr Byrne, for the receiver, said the court had on all occasions made Mr Coyne fully aware of the situation and what he faced if he did not vacate the premises. He said Mr Coyne had gone to the media about his situation and not all that had appeared had been factual.

“The court has afforded extensive indulgences in explaining the situation to Mr Coyne and the receiver has engaged in extensive efforts to assist him getting up Fingal County Council’s housing list to get him alternative accommodation,” Mr Byrne said.

“This is a case of deliberate and conscious contempt of a court order and the application to commit to prison is not one the receiver takes lightly or takes any satisfaction in.”

Judge Linnane told Mr Coyne he had already appealed her order for possession to the High Court, which had refused him a stay on her order on the basis the judge had considered there were no grounds to justify any appeal.

She said the debt owed to the bank was continuously increasing and the receiver required vacant possession in order to sell the property to reduce that debt.

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