Man goes to High Court to seek return of Rolex watch from gardaí

Monday 26 November 2012 20.57
Permission to bring the High Court action was granted
Permission to bring the High Court action was granted

A man has brought a High Court action aimed at having what he says is his gold Rolex watch rightfully returned to him.

The action has been brought by Mr John Connors, a member of the Travelling Community, whom the court heard that the Rolex was purchased in London by his mother for £4,000 sterling cash in 2009.

It was initially given as a gift to Mr Connors' father, who subsequently passed it on to his son.

Last March, the watch was taken from Mr Connors by the gardaí after his vehicle was stopped and searched. Lawyers acting on his behalf then filed an application to have the watch returned to him.

Earlier this month, when the matter came before Dublin District Court, Mr Connors said evidence was given on behalf of the gardaí that no Rolex fitting the description and serial number of the watch in question had been reported stolen on the Garda PULSE system.

Mr Connors also produced a receipt and contact details of the person from whom the watch was purchased. However, Judge Victor Blake, who heard the case, made an order forfeiting the property to the State.

Mr Connors claims that in making the order Judge Blake erred in law.

He also claims that the judge acted in excess of his jurisdiction, on grounds including that no evidence was given that the owner of the watch was a person other than Mr Connors, and there was no evidence before the court to suggest Mr Connors acquired the watch by unlawful means.

Today at the High Court, Michael O'Higgins, SC for Mr Connors, of The Villas, Blessington Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24, said from the evidence put before the District Court his client was entitled to a presumption of ownership.

It was clear from the evidence put before Judge Blake that Mr Connors had the best claim to the watch, and that there was no competing interest for the property.

In his proceedings against Judge Blake the Garda Commissioner, Ireland and the Attorney General, Mr Connors is seeking an order quashing the forfeiture of the Rolex watch to the State under the 1897 Police Property Act, and an order directing the gardaí to return the watch to him.

He is also seeking a number of declarations that provisions of the 1897 Police Property Act are repugnant to the 1937 Constitution.

Mr Connors is further seeking damages for breaches of his constitutional rights and rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

In an affidavit to the court, Mr Connors’ solicitor Michelle Sheeran said the watch was taken from him last March after a member of the gardaí saw him pass it to another person in the vehicle.

He did this because as a member of the Travelling Community he previously had bad experiences involving the seizure of property by the gardaí.

This was denied by the gardaí, however, the affidavit adds.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The matter was made returnable to a date in January.