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Man jailed for defying court order in Middle East machinery row

A businessman has been committed to prison after a High Court judge in the Republic found that he was in contempt of court for failing to comply with orders to hand over machinery used on construction projects in the Middle East.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy ordered that father-of- four Donal Rigney be committed to Mountjoy Prison until he purged his contempt and complied with the order.

The judge, who held that Mr Rigney had misled the court, rejected his claim that he was not in a position to return the machinery to finance providers Lombard Ireland and said he had played "ducks and drakes" with the court.

Mr Rigney had claimed the items were the subject of criminal proceedings in Dubai, after being transferred to other companies without his consent.

Lombard brought proceedings against Mr Rigney of Tullamore, Co Offaly and his company Donal Rigney Ltd arising out of the failure to return to Lombard 17 pieces of machinery, including dumper trucks, cranes and excavators, located in Dubai.

Last May, the High Court ordered Mr Rigney to hand over the machinery to Lombard's agent in Dubai, however this was not done.

The machinery, worth between 1.9m and 2m euros, was subject to lease agreements between Lombard and the defendants. Earlier this year, Lombard sought the return of the machinery after payments due under those agreements were not made.

Yesterday, the court was told that Lombard had serious issues about Mr Rigney's credibility. It had received several versions of events from Mr Rigney but did not know what to believe.

Counsel for Lombard said Mr Rigney was now claiming that the machinery was no longer in his control. Lombard suspected the machinery was being used on a project being undertaken by a company of Mr Rigney's in the neighbouring state of Oman.

In her ruling, Ms Justice Laffoy, who refused to adjourn the case, said she was satisfied that Mr Rigney was in breach of the orders to deliver up the machinery, and was not satisfied the breaches were beyond his control.

The judge said Mr Rigney had played "ducks and drakes" with the court, and it was "clearly the case" Mr Rigney had "misled the court". The judge added that Lombard's suspicions about Mr Rigney's version of events were "well founded".

Ms Justice Lafoy then ordered that Mr Rigney be committed to prison until he purged his contempt by complying with the court order.

Belfast Telegraph