A Westmeath couple who have failed to remove an illegal entrance to their home have been told they brought the costs of prosecution on themselves.
Gary and Sabrina Jackson of Kilbalhraherd, Castletown Geoghegan appeared before Judge Catherine Staines at Tullamore District Court after a bench warrant was issued for their arrest. They failed to appear in court three weeks ago but Judge Staines went on with the case in their absence and convicted them of the planning offence.
Between April 21, 2009 and September 9, 2010 they made an entrance to their site from a minor road, while the planning permission did not allow for this.
They have applied “numerous” times for retention but were turned down each time on safety grounds, the court heard.
The couple made several attempts to block the entrance, with mesh and twigs, and a mound of soil but the council remains unsatisfied that this is sufficient.
Mr David McEntee said Westmeath County Council had particular difficulty with the Jacksons so regularly that they had no option but to prosecute them.
Had the couple rectified what was a relatively minor breach of planning law, they wouldn’t have been before court, Mr McEntee said.
The couple’s solicitor David Walsh apologised for their absence and took responsibility for what he called “confusion” on his part.
The case was adjourned to October 26 to allow Mr McEntee be present.
But Judge Staines said she would deal with the case more leniently if the couple pay the council’s costs of €2,384, which she said they had brought on themselves because of their failure to engage with the council.