A pensioner was threatened with nearly two months in jail this week (February 18 ) for dragging his feet over a two year old debt accrued from the sale of a horse.
Michael Moroney of Carnagh, Kiltoom, Athlone was brought to court by another septuagenarian, Mr FG Ryan from Tipperary, on account of an outstanding €1,387 debt which he had been attempting to pay back with a “derogatory” €5 per week.
The €5 had been set at Moroney’s last appearance in November by Judge Eamon O’Brien who’d said he was “reluctant to send a man of that age to jail”.
From the stand, Mr Ryan deemed this amount “an insult” and he had returned to court to seek full payment.
“You wouldn’t call that an offer - it’s a disgrace,” said Mr Ryan.
“That’s the best he can do,” said defending solicitor, Mr Padraig Quinn.
“He’s not living on bread alone,” said Mr Ryan.
Mr Quinn handed in a sworn statement of Moroney’s means to the court which claimed he had no bank accounts, no savings, no house and no land.
Moroney told the court his wife handled the accounts and had the house in her name.
He admitted to owning an 02 jeep that had no payments outstanding and that he spent an average of €1,300 per annum on clothes.
“How accurate is the statement of means?” asked Judge John Neilan.
“If the house is in his wife’s name then why is he paying house insurance?”
“I’m not,” said Moroney. “It’s on this document your solicitor handed in that you’ve sworn is an accurate statement of your means,” said the judge. “It says €9.50 a week for insurance.” Moroney refused to reveal his wife’s financial means to the court but said they had been married for 52 years.
“You have a figure in here for church contributions,” said the judge.
“On that Christian note, would you like to go to the Midland Prison for 52 days?
“I am not convinced you have placed an accurate account of your financial means to this court.
“If you don’t discharge this debt by April, you’ll go to jail for 52 days.”
Judge Neilan said that the total debt, including Mr Ryan’s expenses stood at €1,507.21 and he suggested Moroney pay by banker’s draft “but we’ll accept cash”.