A businessman behind plans to develop a 177-bed hotel, leisure centre, golf course and 130 housing units at the 600-acre Killeen Castle, Dunsany, Co Meath, claims developer Joe O'Reilly and his Castlethorn Construction group have wrongfully failed to complete the sale of the property.
Patrick White, and his companies Killeen Project Management Co and KC Killeen Holdings, have brought High Court proceedings seeking that Mr O'Reilly and his fellow Castlethorn director John Fitzsimons complete the sale. The case is also against Castlethorn Construction Unlimited Co, Sasula Unlimited Co and Socnule Unlimited Co.
An application to admit the case to the fast-track Commercial Court was adjourned to next month after Mr Justice Denis McDonald was told the parties are seeking to resolve it through mediation.
The property had been in the control of Nama which had valued it at €7m. Nama agreed to release its security over it, subject to a restrictive covenant, providing it remained with Castlethorn until the end of last year.
Mr White said it was an implied or express term of his agreement with the Castlethorn side the parties would work together and that the purchase would be completed.
He had a revised agreement with Mr O’Reilly and Mr Fitzsimons from March of last year to buy Killeen Castle for €18.5 million with the Castlethorn side retaining 30 of the sites.
Last November, Castlethorn said they were not proceeding with the deal. Mr White said he was shocked and disappointed at this as he had already spent €921,000 on it, including planning and design.
He said Mr Fitzsimons sent him a text message saying the decision had been made "by the company to move on and to explore new options and new opportunities for Killeen next year".
He said in hindsight it appeared that since early 2020 "I was being set up to fail". A memorandum of sale was an attempt by the Castlethorn side to "cover their tracks" in relation to previous agreements, he said.
With the Nama restrictive covenant about to expire (last December) the defendants were "subtly placing obstacles to progressing the transaction in my way".
He also learned the defendants were advertising sites on the property for sale. Following the lifting of the Covid lockdown, he says he visited the site and was most surprised to discover significant areas and sites had been fenced off for the clear purpose of making them ready for sale or development.