A car dealer has been jailed in Mountjoy Prison where he will begin a two-month prison sentence handed down for breaching court orders and a recognizance prohibiting him from interfering with the work of a receiver.
John Alex Kane (47) was taken away by members of An Garda Síochána from the Four Courts complex on Monday after a High Court judge ruled she was unable to pursue an agreed stay on an order she had made incarcerating him in prison.
Madam Justice Miriam O’Regan issued orders against Kane after he failed to appear in court for the contempt hearing last November, claiming to self-isolate and await a Covid-19 test.
Kane, of Granard, Co Longford, was charged with contempt of court orders not to intimidate or frustrate the work of Myles Kirby, a receiver appointed by Revenue Commissioners in 2017.
Mr Kirby tried to sell 14 properties owned by Mr Kane in a bid to satisfy a €4.9 million judgment the tax authorities obtained in 2009 for non-payment of car sales tax.
He was previously convicted of contempt of court by then High Court President Peter Kelly in July 2019, but a two-month jail sentence was suspended after Kane pledged not to not interfere with Mr. Kirby’s work.
However, Mr Kirby claimed that these undertakings had not been kept and his lawyers applied to the High Court for the reinstatement of the two-month prison sentence.
Although he did not appear in court last November, the case proceeded in his absence and Judge O’Regan ordered Kane to be jailed for contempt.
Mrs. Justice O’Regan said she was content to activate the sentence and that Kane’s presence had not been sufficiently explained.
Two days before Christmas, Kane returned to the High Court, when his lawyers asked Judge Brian O’Moore to stay Judge O’Regan’s decision.
The stay was requested to allow Kane to appeal against the order sentencing him to prison in the Court of Appeal.
Kane claimed he was unable to attend court the previous time due to concerns over Covid-19 and was unable to log in remotely due to a technical issue.
Gary McCarthy SC, for Mr Kirby, said his client did not object to a brief adjournment to allow Kane to make a formal request for a stay.
The lawyer expressed his client’s concerns about the request, adding that following the November ruling, Kane fled the jurisdiction.
The lawyer added that Kane’s legal time to appeal the sentence expired in December.
Contempt of court
The case returned to Madam Justice O’Regan on Monday, when Kane formally asked the court to continue the stay.
The judge said she could not grant any stay on the November order, adding that proceedings in the High Court over the contempt of court motion were over.
Any request to suspend the sentence, pending the outcome of any appeal, is up to the Court of Appeal, the judge said.
Mr McCarthy said Mr Kirby no longer consented to the stay being extended.
Following the court ruling, Kane said he was “intimidated” and it was “unfair” that he had to go to jail before an appeal was heard.
He said he was unable to present his version of events in court, adding that he attended all but two of the approximately 120 hearings he was scheduled to appear before.
He said that while he could serve his prison sentence, his incarceration would have a negative impact on others.
Kane represented himself in the proceedings and said he was unable, for financial reasons, to obtain attorneys to continue to act for him.
He said he could not afford to pay lawyers the ‘bags of money’ needed to be represented in a High Court action and asked the court to grant him legal aid.
The judge replied that the court had no power to make such an order.
Earlier the High Court heard Mr Kirby claim Kane tried to intimidate potential buyers and committed criminal damage, arson and attempted feed and milk poisoning.
Kane denies the allegations.