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incarcerated Car dealer with €4.9m tax judgment jailed for two months over breaches of court orders

John Alex Kane (47) was taken by members of An Garda Síochána from the Four Courts complex today

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John Alex Kane, of Cartron, Granard, Co Longford. Photo: Gerry Mooney

John Alex Kane, of Cartron, Granard, Co Longford. Photo: Gerry Mooney

John Alex Kane, of Cartron, Granard, Co Longford. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A car dealer was committed to Mountjoy prison where he will commence a two-month sentence imposed for breaches of court orders and an undertaking prohibiting him from interfering with the work of a receiver.

John Alex Kane (47) was taken by members of An Garda Síochána from the Four Courts complex today after a High Court Judge said she was not in a position to continue an agreed stay on an order she made committing him to prison.

Ms Justice Miriam O'Regan made orders against Mr Kane after he failed to appear before the court for the contempt hearing last November, claiming to be isolating and awaiting a Covid-19 test.

Mr Kane, from Granard, Co Longford, was accused of being in contempt of court orders not to intimidate or frustrate the work of Myles Kirby, a receiver appointed by the Revenue Commissioners in 2017.

Mr Kirby has been attempting to sell off 14 properties belonging to Mr Kane in a bid to satisfy a €4.9m judgment the Revenue secured in 2009 over the non-payment of tax on car sales.

He was previously held in contempt of court by the then president of the High Court, Peter Kelly, in July 2019 but a stay was placed on a two-month jail term after Mr Kane gave undertakings not to interfere with Mr Kirby’s work.

However, Mr Kirby claimed those undertakings were breached and his lawyers made an application to the High Court to have the two-month prison term reactivated.

Despite his failure to appear before the court last November, the case proceeded in his absence and Ms Justice O’Regan ordered that Mr Kane be committed to prison for contempt.

Ms Justice O’Regan said she was satisfied to activate the sentence and that Mr Kane's attendance had not been adequately explained.

Two days before Christmas, Mr Kane returned before the High Court when his lawyers asked Mr Justice Brian O'Moore to put a short stay on Ms Justice O'Regan's decision.

The stay was sought to allow Mr Kane lodge an appeal against the order committing him to prison to the Court of Appeal.

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Mr Kane claimed he had been unable to attend court on the previous occasion due to a concern over Covid-19 and was unable to log on remotely due to a technical issue.

Gary McCarthy SC for Mr Kirby said his client did not oppose a short adjournment to allow Mr Kane to make a formal application for a stay.

Counsel expressed his client's concerns about the application, adding that following the ruling in November, Mr Kane had absconded from the jurisdiction.

Counsel added that the legal time limit allowed for Mr Kane to appeal the sentence had expired in December.

The matter returned before Ms Justice O'Regan today when Mr Kane formally asked the court for the stay to be continued.

The judge said she could not grant any stay on last November's order, adding that the proceedings before the High Court regarding the contempt of court application had been completed.

Any application for a stay on the sentence, pending the outcome of any appeal, was a matter for the Court of Appeal, the judge said.

Mr McCarthy said Mr Kirby was no longer consenting to the stay being continued.

Following the court's judgment, Mr Kane said that he was being "bullied" and that it was "unfair" that he had to go to prison before an appeal had been heard.

He said that he had not been able to put his side of events before the court, adding that he attended all but two of some 120 court hearings he was due to appear before.

He said that while he would be able to serve the prison sentence, he said that his incarceration would adversely impact others.

Mr Kane, who represented himself in the proceedings, said he was unable for financial reason to obtain lawyers to continue to act for him.

He said he could not afford to pay lawyers the "bags of cash" required to secure representation in a High Court action and asked the court to grant him legal aid.

The judge replied that the court did not have the power to make such an order.

Previously, the High Court heard that Mr Kirby’s claims that Mr Kane had tried to intimidate prospective buyers, and had engaged in criminal damage, arson and attempts to poison animal feed and milk.

Mr Kane denies the allegations.

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