The High Court has ruled in favour of a man who claimed his house on Tory Island disappeared while he was away in New Zealand.

Neville Presho, from Hollywood in Co Down, bought the house on Tory in 1982 but boarded it up a few years later and went to New Zealand.

When he came back in 1994 the house was gone.

The court heard that a new hotel had been built across from the site of the house and it now had an uninterrupted view of the sea.

It was claimed the site where the house once stood was now a car park.

Mr Presho sued the owner of the hotel, Patrick Doohan, for trespass and damages.

Judge Roderick Murphy said that Mr Presho's house was damaged by fire in 'unexplained circumstances' prior to 8am on the morning of 14 January 1993.

He said it would appear that the remaining structure was removed from the site by the date of the opening of the Ostán Toraigh on 11 May 1994.

The judge ruled that the fire was malicious but there was no evidence that it was started by Mr Doohan or his agents, neither was there evidence that the defendant demolished the building.

Judge Murphy said there was a lack of direct evidence in relation to critical facts alleged by the plaintiff and more telling, he said was the lack of co-operation with the garda investigation and the absence of corroborative evidence from neighbours.

He said that the demolition and removal of the house was gradual - it did not disappear in an instant.

The judge said he accepted that the removal of debris from the road between the house and the hotel by Mr Doohan's JCB was authorised by the local authority.

The removal of the remainder of the house required mechanical means. He said that the continuance of the process to a gravelled site infers planning and motivation.

Mr Doohan, as the owner of the only JCB on the island, had the capacity and opportunity to remove the stones identified by Mr Presho on the foreshore and he ruled that the defendant benefited to some extent from the demolition of Mr Presho's house.

Judge Murphy ruled that Mr Presho was entitled to damages for trespass and interference.

He said that the equitable remedy lies not in re-instatement but in the provision of a comparable dwelling on Tory Island or the open market value of a comparable dwelling on the island.

The owner of Ostán Toraigh, Patrick Doohan, has said he is very disappointed with today's judgment.

He says it is not clear and is contradictory.

In a brief statement issued in Irish through his solicitor, Seán Cannon, Mr Doohan said he will be appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court.