Bankrupt businessman sent to Mountjoy for another six months

Defendant insisted he was ‘Francis, of the family of Cullen’ and court has no jurisdiction.

By Mary Carolan, Irish Times, May 15th 2013

A BUSINESSMAN who has spent three months in Mountjoy Prison over refusing to co-operate with the bankruptcy regime here was yesterday jailed for a further six months by a High Court judge.

There were angry scenes in court six of the Four Courts as some supporters of Francis Cullen, from Clonard, Co Wexford, interrupted Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne several times while she was dealing with his case.

Mr Cullen (36), a father of one, was adjudicated bankrupt against his wishes in 2011 after his plant hire and sales firm ran into financial difficulties arising from the economic collapse. He later lost the property and his home while his marriage also collapsed.

Yesterday, he repeatedly told the judge he did not recognise the court or the Official Assignee in bankruptcy as having any jurisdiction to deal with him unless he was treated under the title, “Francis, of the family of Cullen”.

If given that title, he indicated he would proceed to argue the court had no authority to deal with him and he was subject to a “superior court”. Of several men accompanying Mr Cullen, a number sought to address the judge and to argue the jailing of Mr Cullen was unlawful.

The judge said she would not hear from those men and they must respect the court. She directed Mr Cullen be returned to Mountjoy until December 6th next or such time as he chose to co-operate with the Official Assignee, Chris Lehane.

Earlier, Mr Lehane told the judge Mr Cullen was continuing to refuse to co-operate or to provide a statement of affairs for the purposes of administering his estate.

Mr Cullen was first jailed for a week and then for three months earlier this year after refusing to answer questions and telling Ms Justice Dunne he didn’t recognise her authority. On that occasion, Mr Lehane said Mr Cullen and his brother had both been adjudicated bankrupt but, while his brother had co-operated with the bankruptcy process, Mr Cullen had refused.

Having served the full three months, his case returned before the judge yesterday.

Mr Lehane told the judge that, just before the court hearing, he had asked Mr Cullen if he would co-operate but his attitude was unchanged and he continued to refuse to recognise Mr Lehane as the Official Assignee.

In response to questions from the judge, Mr Cullen said is “a private, sovereign person” who did not consent to being before the court and did not recognise it as having jursidction over him.

The judge said, given Mr Cullen’s attitude, she had no option but to jail him. Mr Cullen, and a number of his supporters, told the judge she had no jurisdiction to jail him without his consent.

After further exchanges, the judge left the bench and Mr Cullen was taken to Mountjoy.

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