THERE was no evidence developer Thomas McFeely deliberately flouted a judge's authority when he was jailed for contempt of court in relation to remedial works at the Priory Hall apartments in Dublin, his lawyer told the Supreme Court yesterday.
Mr McFeely's appeal against an order last year of High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns committing him to prison for three months, along with a €1m fine, began yesterday before a five-judge court.
Dublin City Council, which brought the original High Court applications aimed at making Mr McFeely carry out the works, is opposing Mr McFeely's appeal.
The appeal hearing continues today.
On November 17 last, Mr Justice Kearns found Mr McFeely in contempt of undertakings he gave to the court on October 17 to carry out a number of works, including fire safety works, to the Donaghmede apartment complex whose residents had to be evacuated.
Following the judge's order that he be committed to Mountjoy jail for contempt, he was taken briefly to the Bridewell Garda Station until his lawyers lodged the Supreme Court appeal which put a stay on the High Court order finding him in contempt.
Opening the appeal on behalf of Mr McFeely and his Coalport company which built Priory Hall, Martin Hayden argued the High Court judge's conclusion that he was guilty of breaching undertakings he gave in October was not supported by any or any credible evidence.
The High Court judge had found there was no prospect whatsoever that the first phase of a series of works promised by Mr McFeely would be completed by November 28 and this was the basis on which he was found to be in contempt, counsel said.
Mr Hayden argued the judge did not inquire from the witnesses who gave evidence in the High Court whether those works would be completed by this time.
Rather, it was a matter of uncontroverted fact, the Mr McFeely deployed all resources at his disposal to comply with the undertakings he gave.
Mr Hayden also said his client was not in contempt of the High Court because the order against him was invalid.
The city council had on November 4 successfully applied to the court to have Mr McFeely removed from the Priory Hall site, counsel said.
This meant it was no longer possible for Mr McFeely to comply with orders that he complete a schedule of work targets by November 28.
Mr Hayden said his client was not afforded fair procedures when this removal application was made and he was not given any advance notice in order to instruct his lawyers.