Court rules Monaghan farmer's bankruptcy should be extended

The High Court has ruled that the bankruptcy of a Co Monaghan farmer whose cattle were shot by members of the Defence Forces in 2016 should be extended.

Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington ruled the bankruptcy of MrJohn Hoey, from Carrickmacross should be extended due to his lack of co-operation with the official in charge of his bankruptcy, the Official Assignee (OA) Mr Chris Lehane.

However the Judge said that she was inviting further submissions from the parties as to the length the bankruptcy should be extended.

The judge added if there was further cooperation by Mr Hoey with the OA that could well determine the extent of any bankruptcy extension. The matter is due back before the courts next month.

Mr Hoey was declared bankrupt on foot of a petition brought by John Kelly Fuels Ltd for €262,000 in February of 2016.

He was due to exit the process 12 months later, but has remained a bankrupt pending the outcome of the OA's extension application.

Represented by Bernard Dunleavy SC the OA sought an order under Section 85 of the 2015 Bankruptcy (Amendment) Act that the bankruptcy be extended by 6 to 10 years.

The maximum period of extension that can be sought under the act is a 15 year extension from the date of the adjudication of bankruptcy.

Mr Lehane claimed that Mr Hoey has failed to co-operate by failing to provide a Statement of Affairs detailing all of his assets, had moves a substantial amount of farm machinery from his farm and hid them on the grounds of a local hotel.

It was also alleged that Mr Hoey attempted to hide payments he received from a meat factory, and had hid cash on his property, which was recovered following a search of the premises.

The court also heard that In the interests of public health and safety and to prevent the spread of TB, Mr Lehane had reluctantly used defence force marksmen to humanely destroy five of Mr Hoey's cows.

The animals had gone wild, dangerous and could not be captured, Mr Lehane said.

Mr Hoey strongly denied he had not co-operated with the OA, and claimed that he furnished Mr Lehane with a statement of affairs.

He says that between the date of his bankruptcy adjudication in February 2016, and May 2016 everything he had worked for was "literally wiped out and destroyed" by Mr Lehane and his agents.

Mr Hoey also rejected Mr Lehane's claims in relation to the cattle that were culled and said he remains "haunted " after witnessing his cattle being shot in July 2016.

In her judgement the judge said she was satisfied that Mr Hoey had hidden cash on his property, that had not been disclosed to the OA and had failed to furnish any proper explanation for.

The Judge said when the moving of assets, the proceeds of sale of cattle to the meat factory, and the non disclosure of the cash found by the OA, were taken into account there was a sufficient basis for finding that Mr Hoey had not cooperated with the OA in regards the realisation of his assets.

In all the circumstances the judge said that she was prepared to extend Mr Hoey's bankruptcy, and adjourned the matter to allow both sides file submissions to the court.

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