An injunction has been granted by the High Court restraining a couple from trespassing upon their former family home in Co Carlow that has been possessed by a mortgage lender following default on their loan repayments.
In a judgment, Mr Justice Senan Allen said it is “plain beyond argument” that the actions of Vincent and Madeleine Kavanagh, in breaking into the house at Beechwood Park, Carlow, via their son on the afternoon of February 17th, 2020, were unlawful.
It is “absolutely clear”, he said, that Start Mortgages Designated Activity Company was lawfully in possession of the home as of 2.30 pm that day and is entitled to an injunction “as a matter of right”.
The judge said he found it “very hard to credit” that a person of ordinary intelligence could believe he was entitled to use an angle grinder to break into a house within hours of his eviction by a court messenger acting on foot of a court order.
He also made an order prohibiting the Kavanaghs and any persons acting for them from filming or recording any of Start’s employees or the County Registrar for Co Carlow at or near the property. Further, they are prohibited from posting any such footage of images on social media or the internet, he ruled.
Mr Justice Allen fixed a short stay on the trespass order until 12 pm on Friday, March 4th, so the Kavanaghs could remove their belongings from the property.
A Circuit Court judge made an order in June 2016 for possession of the property, which was upheld by the High Court a year later, the judge noted.
The possession order arose from a failure to meet a repayment demand concerning a €110,000 loan taken out by the Kavanaghs in 2007 with Bank of Scotland (Ireland), which was secured by a mortgage on the Carlow property. Start was registered as owner of the charge in April 2015.
In uncontested evidence, the director of Blackwater Bailiff Asset Management Services Limited, Sean Cahill, claimed he attended the house at 2 pm on February 17th, 2020, with a court messenger, six court bailiffs, two locksmiths and four gardaí.
It was alleged Ms Kavanagh appeared at the window and recorded the events on her phone while claiming the people were on her property unlawfully. She locked the door from the inside with two deadbolts, but it was forced open, said Mr Cahill.
The locks were changed and CCTV cameras capable of capturing sound were installed in the kitchen.
Mr Justice Allen said the uncontested evidence was that the Kavanaghs’ son Jefferey was later recorded using an angle grinder to cut the locks on the property. He, his partner and Mr and Ms Kavanagh were later shown in the kitchen, alongside three people who have been described as members of the so-called anti-eviction taskforce.
One of the anti-eviction group members said any footage of the faces of the court messenger, bailiffs and gardaí should be published on social media in an effort to intimidate them, it was noted.
During the injunction application, Mr Kavanagh, representing himself, alleged Start was not a lawful mortgagee in possession. He said the property was his family dwelling, constitutionally protected from any and all unlawful trespass. This, the judge said, fails to recognise that the order for possession was made and executed in accordance with law.
He said Start is entitled to its legal costs.