Wednesday 17 January 2018

Judge requests an 'open book' for landlord's accounts

The Kennedy Plaza apartment building, which suffered a major fire in January 2012.
The Kennedy Plaza apartment building, which suffered a major fire in January 2012.
Les Peacock

THE sentencing hearing of New Ross businessman Les Peacock was further adjourned when Judge Alice Doyle expressed concern with the accounts information provided.

A previous sentencing hearing last February heard that he had transferred the business of Les Peacock & Co., Traders to his two daughters and wife a year after the fire at the Kennedy Plaza apartment complex in North Quay.

Les Peacock, of Rockland House, Cherry's road, was found guilty of failing to ensure safety in the event of a fire at Kennedy Plaza Apartment complex, New Ross, on January 20, 2012.

Judge Doyle has requested an 'open book' in relation to the accounts.

the court heard that a receiver had been appointed to properties owned by Mrs. Peacock and the Kennedy Plaza Apartments owned by the defendant, while the damage to the building was for approximately €1.7m. The total sum of liabilities on paper comes to some €10m.

Judge Alice Doyle had adjourned sentencing on the matter to Tuesday last for the defendant's full financial details to be produced.

At Tuesday morning's sentencing hearing Judge Doyle told Defence Counsel, Ms Lahart, that documents had been handed in that morning relating to property ownership. She also noted a reference that the re-structuring is subject to a confidentiality clause. 'Is there any other financial documents?' she asked.

Ms Lahart replied that she would have to take instructions on that.

Judge Doyle asked if there was any details of her client's financial income from the apartments. Ms Lahart said that in 2010 the gross income showed €361,900 on which he paid tax of €20,000. IN 2011 the gross income was €282,900 on which €42,803 tax was paid.

Prosecuting Counsel, Ms Sinead Gleeson, said these documents did not bring them any closer to meeting the court's request made on the last occasion. She suggested that Mr. Peacock prepare a statement of affairs. There are no details as to how property came into Mrs. Peacock's name or when it happened, said Ms Gleeson.

Judge Doyle said this is a very serious matter and it's up to the defendant to come to court with the full details.

Ms Lahart said there are many confidential matters in these documents which are not for public consumption.

Judge Doyle told Defence Counsel she was not going to deal with the matter today.

'It's up to yourself if you want to produce documents to the court. It's a matter for you. I want you to come before court with an open book,' she said.

Ms Lahart said they had no problem with that.

Judge Doyle told Defence Counsel that what they are saying is the property of Mrs. Peacock has nothing to do with Mr. Peacock.

'That's what I'm saying,' added Ms Lahart.

Ms Gleeson said the tax assessment before the court is a joint tax assessment.

Ms Lahart said settlement was made on foot of the insurance for a total of €1,349,750, which was paid in two instalments. On March 1, 2012, €100,000 was paid. The payees were Les and Catherine Peacock and Bank of Scotland (Ireland). This was before the receiver was appointed.

Mr. Peacock, she said, was endorsed by the bank to endorse the cheque which was taken up by the bank and paid off against the mortgage. The problem is the bank no longer trades in this country but they had done their best to get the relevant documents.

She said that on December 12, 2012, a second payment was made for €1,249,750, with the company that took over the bank's Irish financial affairs taking the money on behalf of the receiver.

Judge Doyle: 'Are you saying that Mr. Peacock owns no property?'

Ms Lahart: 'Yes.'

Ms Lahart said he was not paid any monies, it was handed over to the receiver. The cheque for €100,000 he had presumed would have been made available to him and used to pay off his liabilities but that was not the case. The Bank would not allow it for it was paid off his mortgage.

Judge Doyle told Ms Lahart she was adjourning sentencing to June 10 next.

When asked by Ms Lahart as to what the court required, Judge Doyle told her an 'open book', if not she would deal with the matter irrespective of that.

Wexford People

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