Couple avoid jail for contempt after agreeing to comply with order to vacate apartment

Couple Avoid Jail For Contempt After Agreeing To Comply With Order To Vacate Apartment
The owner of the property in Raheen, Co Limerick claimed the couple have no right to be there. Photo: Unsplash
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High Court reporters

A couple has avoided being jailed for contempt after they agreed before the High Court to comply with orders to leave the Limerick apartment where they have been living for several years.

Jordan Mitchell and Dinicka Ryan gave sworn undertakings before Mr Justice Mark Sanfey on Tuesday to vacate 9B Ballycummin Village, Raheen, Co Limerick within the next four weeks.


The owner of the property, Tarbutus Limited, claimed the couple have no right to be there, and were in breach of court orders it obtained requiring them to vacate the apartment.

It claimed the couple had repeatedly refused to leave and had wrongfully been paying rent to the apartment's former owner, Conor Hogan.

Mr Justice Sanfey said he had every sympathy for the couple and their two young children, and expressed his concerns that the defendants were being "used to serve the interests of somebody else".

However, he said the couple had known for some time that the day was coming when they would have to leave the apartment.


The judge told the couple, after they submitted a sworn statement opposing their committal, that they had been given several chances to address matters, but had failed to do so.

Ms Ryan had been before the court last March, and on that occasion was given six weeks to leave the property, but failed to do so, the judge noted.

While the couple had paid rent to Mr Hogan, he was not entitled to have anything to do with the property, the judge added.

Court orders must be obeyed, the judge said, adding that he would not be doing his job if he allowed people to disobey a court order.


The judge, who has previously questioned the advice being given to the couple, also noted it was to the couple's credit that they were not brought before the court by gardaí, and had instead attended by arrangement without having to be arrested.


After considering their positions, both Ms Ryan, who became visibly upset during the proceedings, and Mr Mitchell agreed to comply with the orders to vacate the property.

The judge gave the couple four weeks to comply, and warned them of the serious consequences they will face if they fail to vacate the property by then.

John Kennedy SC, for Tarbutus, said his client had brought the motion seeking the couple's attachment and possible committal to prison with great reluctance due to the ongoing refusal to comply with the order to vacate.


Counsel said that if the couple leave the property within the agreed time period, his client would not pursue them for the legal costs of bringing the application.

After the couple gave their undertakings to vacate the property, the judge adjourned the matter to a date in early July.

In its motion, Tarbutus claimed it is the property's registered owner, which it purchased from a financial fund, Tanager DAC, some years ago.

Tarbutus said it brought proceedings against Mr Hogan, of Ardnacrusha, Co Clare, in 2020, alleging he had unlawfully went into occupation of the property.

In 2022, Tarbutus obtained a High Court order, which was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal, requiring all persons to immediately vacate the property.

Ms Ryan and Mr Mitchell, who it is alleged rented the property from Mr Hogan for almost four years, were allegedly aware of that order but had refused to comply with it.

Mr Hogan continues to dispute the plaintiff's entitlement to the property, and has separate proceedings regarding the property pending before the courts.

The case will be mentioned before the court in July.

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