independent

Monday 18 December 2017

Restaurant owner attempted suicide because of debts

BUSINESSMAN OPENS HEART TO COURT

AN EMOTIONAL Italian restaurateur told a court on Monday how he has tried to commit suicide over mounting business debts.

Antonio Luongo, 4 Tulach Geal, Ballymurn said he'd taken ' an overdose of pills' when escalating debts relating to his La Scala restaurant in Cornmarket had driven him over the edge.

He appeared in Wexford District Court on Monday and admitted he had sold wine in his restaurant without a licence.

'I was in arrears in taxes and I could not get a tax clearance cert,' he said, adding that he suffered depression because ' the debts were too many'.

Luongo - an Irish resident for the last 13 years - said he was a victim of circumstance and was 'just going through a tough time'.

'I'm sorry if I did something illegal,' said the married father of three who has a wife and one 16 year old dependent child living with him.

His business has now closed. Because he was self employed, he told the court that he is not entitled to social welfare; although he is in receipt of a medical card which has helped him get necessary medical help.

He said that his debts were such that he could not pay the mortgage on his home. ' When my depression came out, I ran away from the house,' he said.

He added that he hoped to get a job, but it was difficult at 49 years of age.

'I feel people think, if I was not good enough for my own businesses, how can I be good enough to them,' he said.

Judge Donnchadh O Buachalla recorded a conviction in this case, finding the defendant guilty of selling alcohol without a licence. He did, however adjourn the matter of penalty for six months 'in the hope that his circumstances improve'.

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