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'Corkman cowboy' Developer who demolished iconic Irish pub in Australia says he's being 'penalised'

The men had previously pleaded guilty to breaching building and planning laws when they knocked down the 158-year-old pub.

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The pub was demolished

The pub was demolished

The pub was demolished

One of the developers who knocked down an historic Irish pub in Melbourne has said the notoriety it had brought him would follow him around for the rest of his life. 

I’m no longer Stefce Kutlesovski,” the developer said. “I’m the Corkman cowboy. I’ve not just been penalised once, I’ve been penalised for life.”

Raman Shaqiri and Kutlesovski paid AUS $4.76 million (€2.9 million) for the Corkman pub in 2015 and knocked it down the following year. The land without the pub on it would now fetch around AUS $10 million (€6.2 million).

They were later jailed for a month and ordered to pay more than AUS $400,000 (€248,000) in fines and legal costs after being found guilty of contempt of court by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The Melbourne City Council and state government sought to have the men held in contempt for failing to comply with VCAT orders, which compelled them to clear the site so it could be transformed into a public park.

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The Corkman pub

The Corkman pub

The Corkman pub

The men had previously pleaded guilty to breaching building and planning laws when they knocked down the 158-year-old pub.

For that, they were fined more than AUS $1 million (622,000 euro) and also found themselves subject to legal action brought by the council and the Victorian government.

The Corkman Pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, was built in 1858. Although it was not on the Victorian Heritage Register, it was covered by heritage rules.

It was demolished over a weekend in 2016, a week after a fire was lit inside the building.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the developer “deserved this outcome”

“They have trashed Victoria’s heritage, refused to build a park, and shirked their legal obligations at every step,” he said.

Opposition planning spokesman Tim Smith also backed the VCAT sentence and called on the state government to seize control of the property.

“The Andrews Labor government must compulsorily acquire this site and turn it into social housing, public housing, or a permanent park so these cowboy developers don’t make a cent from their illegal activity,” he said.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council and government pursued the developer “in the public interest”.

“Today’s decision vindicates the court’s authority and sends a clear message that we won’t tolerate developers disobeying a court order,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing the site cleaned up and available for the public to enjoy.”

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