Belfast Telegraph

Case against Strabane lottery winner could collapse after claimant fails to show

By Allan Preston

An employment case against a local Euromillions winner may be dismissed within weeks if the claimant does not make contact, a tribunal has heard.

Patrick Joseph Breslin (33) from Strabane was absent yesterday as his unfair dismissal case resumed against 52-year-old lottery winner Margaret Loughrey.

Employment Judge Browne said Mr Breslin had not made any recent contact with his solicitor or the tribunal office.

Although he has already given his evidence in December last year, Judge Browne said it was clear his evidence was disputed by Ms Loughrey.

"If she [Ms Loughrey] were to give evidence there's no one here to refute her version of events, what I'm proposing is that the case doesn't proceed today," he said.

Judge Browne said attempts would be made to contact Mr Breslin again and if there was still no response the case could be dismissed within two weeks.

"In many senses, it's a tragic case," he added.

A legal adviser for Ms Loughrey, who won a jackpot of £27m in 2013, commented: "At the end of the day litigation requires two parties in attendance. We don't actually know the reasons he hasn't attended."

He continued: "I submit we should try and find out why he's not here."

When the tribunal started in December, Mr Breslin said working for Ms Loughrey as a general assistant between March and June 2016 has driven him "almost to the brink of suicide".

He had been long-term unemployed before this point and suffered from depression, anxiety and PTSD.

A devout Catholic, Mr Breslin attended mass every day but said that Ms Loughrey had mocked his religious faith and made offensive comments about his gender, describing men as "useless".

He further complained he was given no written reason for his dismissal.

A barrister for Ms Loughrey at the time argued that Ms Loughrey had given Mr Breslin a "hand up" from long-term unemployment with a job, a place to live and a holiday to Egypt.

He added that alleged mocking of his religion and gender was intended to be humorous and that she had made arrangements to collect him from mass each morning at 10.30am.

As it was widely known she had won the lottery, he also argued Mr Breslin's claim had been financially motivated.

Mr Breslin strongly rejected the idea he was driven by money and said his former boss had put him "through hell".

He said: "To suggest that I would do that would be against everything I believe in.

"It's just not something I would do."

Belfast Telegraph

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