Judge warns man in house demolition saga

William James and Roberta Young leave Downpatrick Court on Friday
William James and Roberta Young leave Downpatrick Court on Friday

A man who faces a mammoth fine and the prospect of bulldozing his home because of a planning breach was labelled “impertinent” by a judge when he appeared in court.

During a terse exchange between Judge Piers Grant and William James Young at Downpatrick County Court on Friday, as the judge tried to find out if leave had been granted for a judicial review, Mr Young said twice that he was “sure the court will be aware” and that he was “surprised” the judge was not aware of parallel proceedings.

Judge Grant told the appellant: “I consider you to be impertinent” and warned him to “be careful” in how he addressed the court.

“Well I’m not [impertinent], I’m trying to assist the court,” declared Mr Young.

Mr Young and wife Roberta had previously been fined £75,000 each after being convicted of breaching a planning notice. They had been warned that for each day their house on Carrowdore Road, Greyabbey, remained standing, they were continuing to offend.

A court had been told that “as long ago as 2004” the couple had been served with an enforcement notice by the planning authorities.

The case has since been all through the higher courts, a prosecuting lawyer said, and at every stage it was deemed “that the law has been applied correctly”.

In what looked like another cycle of court hearings, the case was scheduled for another appeal before Judge Grant on Friday, but the court heard that the Youngs had lodged papers at the High Court to judicially review their case.

The judge said there was “certainly no indication on the papers presented to me that leave has been granted”.

He asked repeatedly if the High Court had granted leave for a judicial review, telling Mr Young to answer the “simple question” which “deserves a polite and proper answer”.

Eventually, Mr Young revealed there were two applications lodged with the High Court for leave to “judicially review two different aspects of the case” and that a hearing is scheduled for November.

Ordering that Mr Young forward copies of papers to the council’s lawyer, the judge said “the matter cannot be taken forward” until a decision came from the High Court regarding any potential appeal.