Armagh Man jailed for six months for non co-operation with the Official Receiver

Date published: 08 January 2019

Today the High Court sentenced a Co. Armagh man to prison for six months for contempt of court.

Mr Colm McAuley, of Aghavilly Road, Armagh, was adjudged bankrupt by the High Court on 5 December 2017. Under insolvency legislation, bankrupts are required to co-operate fully with the Official Receiver, however, Mr McAuley continually refused to do so and failed to attend for interview or to make a disclosure of his assets and affairs.

As a result of his refusal to co-operate, the Official Receiver applied to have Mr McAuley examined in court. He attended the High Court, but refused to co-operate with the Court or to answer any questions about his dealings, affairs or property. Consequently, the Official Receiver brought forward contempt of court proceedings. 

Mr McAuley was repeatedly given the opportunity to co-operate with the Court and the Official Receiver but refused to do so. At a hearing in December 2018, he was, therefore, found guilty of contempt of court in that he failed to comply with the obligations required within insolvency legislation. Mr McAuley was, on several occasions, assured that he was entitled to legal aid in respect of the contempt proceedings, but he refused all offers of assistance including legal representation.

On 7 January 2019, Mr McAuley appeared once more in the High Court and was again given further opportunities to purge his contempt by co-operating with either the Court or the Official Receiver. He refused to take the opportunities afforded to him and stated again that he would not co-operate with the Court or the official Receiver.

In summing up, Lord Justice Stephens  referred to the relevant sentencing principles in relation to contempt of Court and sentenced Mr McAuley to six months imprisonment. It was indicated that the Mr McAuley could apply at any time to be discharged from prison on the basis that he would co-operate with the Official Receiver and comply with his statutory obligations.


Notes to editors: 

  1. Bankrupts are required, under legislation to co-operate fully with the Official Receiver.  Mr McAuley failed to comply with the following articles of the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989:- Article 261 (to submit a statement of affairs), Article 264 (to deliver up possession of his estate to the Official Receiver), Article 306 (to give information as to his affairs) and Article 334 (to comply with  the orders of the High Court).
  2. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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