€10k award to brother of developer intimidated by Viper's debt collectors
A brother of bankrupt developer Sean Dunne has been awarded €10,000 by the High Court over intimidation of him and his family by the "debt collection agency" run by criminal Martin 'the Viper' Foley.
Seamus Dunne, of Castlecomer Road, 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", Mr Justice Noonan said.
However, the judge dismissed the main part of the case brought by Mr Dunne and another businessman, Tom O'Driscoll, of Ard Sidhe, Cashel Road, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, in which they claimed they were entitled to €3m damages against Mr McDonald, his wife Deirdre McDonald 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 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 two 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.
In 2009, Mr McDonald employed Foley's agency and on a number of occasions between March and July that year, Mr Dunne was visited at his home, and at his wholesale electrical business in Kilkenny, by a woman and two men.
By then, the judge said, the property market had collapsed and Ulster Bank, which had provided funding to the two businessmen for the acquisition of the Ballyroan lands, appointed a receiver over the property in 2010.
Mr Justice Noonan said 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 (in lieu of the three houses) had not been paid.
He added it was surprising the claim advanced at the hearing, of the allegedly lost contract to sell to Rolan Homes, was not once mentioned in the pleadings of the case which came before the court in 2012.
He dismissed the main case but added that Mr Dunne had said he felt intimidated by the Foley agency and his wife suffered emotional distress.