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Bricking it Developers who ripped down historic Irish pub in Melbourne appeal jail sentence

The Corkman Pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, which was built in 1858 was reduced to rubble

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The Corkman pub was reduced to rubble

The Corkman pub was reduced to rubble

The Corkman pub was reduced to rubble

Developers who illegally ripped down a 159-year-old Irish pub in Melbourne have appealed a 30-day jail sentence of contempt of court. 

Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri reduced the Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton to rubble without a building or planning permit.

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.

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).

Planning Minister Richard Wynne and the City of Melbourne successfully brought contempt proceedings against them in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) last December.

Tribunal president Michelle Quigley fined their company, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, $150,000; ordered the pair to pay $250,000 in legal costs; and sentenced them to a month in prison.

However, they say they should not be jailed for 30 days because of the “beautiful” $1.6 million park they have put in place of the demolition site.

Their QC, David Grace, accepted the contempt was serious, but because the park had eventually been built, Mr Grace said the contempt had been “purged”.

He said it was created at such expense that a prison sentence, which he said was manifestly excessive punishment, was no longer necessary.

“Compliance has been achieved at considerable expense,” Mr Grace said.

“You can see the product of this work, which is clearly for the community’s benefit and reflects a beautiful streetscape and recreation area for the public to enjoy.”

Mr Grace issued an apology to the court on behalf of his clients. Though the court heard the company had said sorry at the “11th hour” during the VCAT proceedings, the directors’ remorse had previously been “muted”.

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“We have now completely rectified the situation and the orders are now complied with,” Mr Grace read.

“We are repentant and we have recognised what we have done wrong. This behaviour will not be repeated.”

However, barristers acting for the council and minister, Paul Holdenson, QC, and Andrew Woods, argued that the fact the park had been completed should not change the sentence.

Mr Holdenson repeated Ms Quigley’s ruling that the pair had been arrogant in their flouting of the orders and disregard for authority.

“No apology, no remorse and no contrition,” he said.

Court of Appeal judges Phillip Priest, David Beach and Stephen Kaye were critical of the pair’s behaviour, with Justice Kaye quoting the VCAT ruling that Shaqiri and Kutlesovski had to be “dragged every step of the way to compliance."

The court will hand down a decision at a future date to be set.

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