Developer who topped Ireland’s rich list accused of breaching non-molestation order

Michael Taggart, who is facing two charges of contravening a non-molestation order, has said the case will be ‘vigorously defended.’

Michael Taggart

Michael Taggart

Ciaran O'NeillSunday World

A man who once topped Ireland’s richest list is facing charges of contravening a non-molestation order.

Property developer Michael Taggart was one of the country’s best-known businessmen after making a fortune building houses with his brother John.

But the Derry brothers’ empire fell apart as a result of the 2007 property crash.

Michael Taggart, who has since returned to the house-building business, is facing two charges of contravening a non-molestation order.

The offences are alleged to have taken place at Legavallon Road in Dungiven, Co Derry, on July 7 and July 22 last year.

A non-molestation order is an order put in place to protect a person or people from violence or harassment.

The order is not the same as a criminal conviction.

The standard of proof is not as high as in criminal proceedings and it can be put in place by consent without any findings being made against the individual involved.

Mr Taggart’s case was mentioned briefly at Limavady Magistrates Court this week.

The hearing did not go into any further details about the circumstances behind the charges against the 56-year-old businessman.

There was a short discussion between Mr Taggart’s legal representative and the judge in relation to issues around the alleged evidence in the case, before the case was adjourned until next month.

As a result of his success in the property world, Michael Taggart was chosen as the Irish Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007 and was named by newspapers that year as Ireland’s richest man.

He and his brother built their small sub-contracting firm into one of the biggest house-building operations in Ireland.

However, their property business crashed as a result of the worldwide 2007 economic crisis.

Taggart Holdings, which had also been building houses in Britain and the Isle of Man, was eventually put into administration in October 2008 when banks called in their debts.

At the time, the company had estimated debts of £300 million, including money owed to sub-contractors and small businesses.

The Taggarts’ business was one of the most high-profile casualties of the economic crash.

Following the collapse of their company, the brothers were involved in a long-running legal battle with Ulster Bank.

They issued a multi-million pound writ for alleged improper conduct, claiming the bank’s actions contributed to the collapse of their company.

The Taggart brothers claimed they could have sold off assets had they been warned of unease within the bank about the company’s finances.

However, Ulster Bank issued counter proceedings for money it contended the brothers owed in personal guarantees over land purchases in Dublin in 2006 and in Northern Ireland a year later.

Michael Taggart

The court proceedings heard that as well as developments in Ireland and the UK, the Taggarts’ property portfolio once extended to a Luxembourg shopping centre and luxury apartments in Florida and on the borders of Monte Carlo.

However, despite the brothers’ claims around how they had been treated by Ulster Bank, the courts ruled in favour of the bank.

Mr Taggart is now the Chief Executive Officer of Taggart Holdings, a property company which has built a large number of properties in the north west region. In a profile article on the company’s website, it states the businessman and his brother established their original company, Taggart Holdings Ltd Group, in 1989.

“It was a family-held business involved in the construction industry primarily in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. The majority shareholder, public face and driving force for the group was Michael.”

The profile adds that Mr Taggart oversees the “strategic direction” of the current company and has an “unwavering passion for delivering high quality homes”.

In an interview with the Irish Independent in 2015 following his return to the property development business, Mr Taggart said he was “delighted” to be back.

“I started like this more than two decades ago with £1,500 and I’ve never been afraid of a day’s work,” he said.

A solicitor acting for Mr Taggart said: “Mr Taggart is fully aware of this matter which is currently before the court and is being vigorously defended.

“Since these...allegations came to his attention he has made it clear to the court that they are contested.

“A substantial dossier of evidence has been submitted to the appropriate prosecution authorities on Mr Taggart’s behalf and at a court hearing last week the matter was adjourned because they are currently reviewing the decision to prosecute, with the benefit of that evidence.”

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