Former Castleblayney Mart director Arthur Connell Nugent has lost a High Court appeal to halt his prosecution by the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PRSA) for trading as an auctioneer without a licence.
In her judgement this week, Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh said that the appeal by Nugent should be dismissed and provisionally said that the PSRA was entitled to the costs of the appeal.
Nugent lodged the appeal after Justice Anthony Barr last year refused to grant him an order of prohibition and other declaratory reliefs in respect of a prosecution which is pending against him in the District Court for offences contrary to section 28 of the Property Services Regulation Act 2011 (“the 2011 Act”).
The PSRA initiated the prosecution after he was found to be trading as an auctioneer, including holding a mart, without a licence from the authority.
Nugent had also claimed that the PRSA investigation into the mart and prosecution were “unlawful” and in breach of the 2011 act, that the manner in which the PSRA instituted legal proceedings was contrary to the constitution, that the proceedings were against his human rights and that the evidence obtained was “unlawfully obtained”.
He alleged that the PSRA failed “to ensure that all probative evidence, in particular the original handwritten notes of the onsite inspection of the premises, were preserved for inspection, examination and for the trial of the offence alleged”.
He also claimed that no clear distinction was made in the typed version of the notes between the legal entity (Edward Paul Nugent Limited / Castleblayney Livestock Sales) and the human person (Arthur Connell Nugent).
Nugent also alleged that the PSRA deliberately destroyed evidence central to its case against him, denying him the right to a fair trial.
In response, the PSRA said that there was “sufficient evident” to justify a prosecution and that it was “not under any obligation to preserve the original handwritten notes which are not evidence”.
It also said there was no risk that Nugent would be subjected to an unfair trial and that it would be for the trial judge to determine the significance or otherwise of the original handwritten notes being unavailable.
The PSRA said it “did not deliberately destroy evidence”.
Following an investigation by inspectors it appointed, the PSRA said it was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to suggest a contravention of the act and decided to bring summary proceedings against Nugent in 2018.
Last month, the Irish Farmers Journal revealed that farmers were among those who had lost out on €580,000 worth of compensation claims for monies owed to them by the mart.
Of 78 claims submitted to the PSRA, worth up to €600,000, 76 were rejected.
Two claims were settled with a total value of €21,746. The claims had been lodged in relation to livestock which farmers were not paid for and for money owed in relation to land sales.