Enoch Burke has a week to pay a fine of €23,800 for contempt of court up to the beginning of this month, the High Court has ruled.
In a judgement issued on Thursday, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore said the teacher has until March 23rd to pay the fines.
After that, Wilson’s Hospital School may apply to enforce payment of the fines by means such as seeking orders over Mr Burke’s assets, the judge said.
The judge said: “There are clear and obvious steps which can be taken, including the sequestration of Mr. Burke’s assets. The earlier application for sequestration as a coercive measure was refused. However, sequestration of Mr. Burke’s assets in order to enable collection of his fines is a different proposition.
“In any event, as and from 4pm on the 23rd of March, the school is at large as to what steps it wishes to take to enforce the fines and Mr. Burke will be at risk of such measures for as long as it takes for the fines to be paid.”
Mr Justice O’Moore considering whether the fine should be increased over the breaching of the High Court order directing Mr Burke to stay away from the Co Westmeath school, the judge said there are two possible reasons for Mr Burke’s continuing contempt. One is that the fine is too low, the other is that he does not really believe that the fines will ever be enforced.
The judge said the correct option is not to increase the daily fine “at least at this stage” but to crystallise the sums due as of the March 1st, 2023, to have the Order perfected, and thereby permit the school to take the appropriate steps to enforce the fines.
Review of compliance
The judge added: “Needless to say, the daily fine of €700 will continue to run until the relevant order is materially varied or set aside or until Mr Burke purges his contempt. The parties will be notified, in good time, of the next review date. At that time, the compliance by Mr Burke with court orders from the 2nd of March on will be reviewed.”
Mr Justice O’Moore said the evidence of the school is that Mr. Burke has breached the High Court order on every day since January 26st last when the €700 a day fine was imposed other that days when the school was closed or Mr Burke was in the Four Courts.
He said “The basic fact is that Mr. Burke has continued to breach the court order” up to at the very least, March 1st, 2023.
Mr Justice O’Moore said the €700 fine has run from January 27th to March 16th but for the purpose of his order he would fix the amount of the fines now accumulated at €23,800 which are the amount of fines due as of March 1st last.
“The judgment imposing the fines did not give Mr Burke any deferral with regard to their payment. The fines accumulate on a daily basis and are therefore payable on a daily basis.
“For the purpose of the Order, the data for payment of the fines accrued up to the March 1st will be 4 pm on March 23rd. That modest indulgence of Mr Burke is solely for the purpose of ensuring clarity in the Order,” the judge said.
Enoch Burke was jailed in September for 108 days for contempt of the orders and released before Christmas without purging his contempt. When he resumed attending at the school after the Christmas holidays, it secured orders requiring him to pay €700 daily in fines from January 27th.