Judge slams ACC for sending in ‘thugs’ after repayments aren’t made
A debt collector working on behalf of ACC Bank has received a suspended sentence for the assault of a Straide man while the bank have been slammed for sending ‘thugs’ out after customers who fail to make repayments.
Aidan Faulkner of Crow’s Nest, Castlecohill, Clogherhead, County Louth was sent to the home of Patrick Ruane at Knockshanvalley Lodge, Straide on April 21, 2010 to seize Mr Ruane’s five-year-old Toyota Hiace after Mr Ruane missed three repayments on the van, totalling €843.
In the court hearing on July 6, 2011 Mr Ruane said he was ‘terrorised’ by the actions of Faulkner, who he described as a ‘bully’. The court heard how a headbutt from Faulkner to Ruane’s face left Ruane with a broken nose, a split lip and loosened some of his teeth.
Faulkner, a former officer in the Defence Forces, said he was ‘extremely provoked’ and contested the charges.
Judge Mary Devins said then that the letter which Faulkner had brought with him to Ruane’s property on behalf of ACC Bank was ‘the worst drafted letter I’ve ever seen’ and it gave ACC no right to take the van, said Judge Devins.
Judge Devins found Faulkner guilty but the matter was adjourned for sentencing.
At last Friday’s court Myles Gilvarry, solicitor for Faulkner, said the case had received a lot of media attention, in national papers and on radio stations.
“Why are you telling me that,” interjected Judge Devins.
Mr Gilvarry said that the publicity had ‘greatly affected’ his client.
Judge Devins asked Patrick Ruane if he felt Faulkner should go to jail.
“In relation to ACC Bank they shouldn’t do what they do. I borrowed money from the bank and I met a lady who I did business with … very nice people. I didn’t think I would be meeting anyone like the way I did,” he said.
Judge Devins said that was exactly the issue she had - how suddenly a commercial transaction with people in suits who are very keen to lend money and then suddenly if there is a failure in repayments ‘how very quickly the people in suits get involved in what can only be described as thugs’. She said that Mr Ruane’s comment ‘is a very interesting comment on repossession cases generally’.
She added that ACC’s paperwork was completely faulty and wouldn’t stand up in court.
“The repossession orders are, quite frankly, nonsense. They don’t make sense in English not to mind law,” she said.
She added that Faulkner had no right to be on the property that day and then ‘behaved in a thuggish manner’.
“He had certain training which meant you were physically able to engage in that sort of behaviour and that training makes your behaviour on the day even more reprehensible,” she said.
However she said she ‘accepts’ that Faulkner was a ‘pawn’ that day and that if a custodial sentence should be issued to anybody, ‘those people are not before the court and it is those people in suits’.
For the charge of assault she sentenced Faulkner to three months in prison, suspended for 12 months on the condition that there are no further convictions or offences in 12 months. She fined him €500 and directed that he pay €500 to Mr Ruane. The Public Order breach of trespassing was taken into consideration.