x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Jailed Irish cheque-bouncer on hunger strike

Christopher Renehan, who is serving a six-year jail term for bounced cheques, began a hunger strike on Monday.

DUBAI // An Irishman jailed for writing bounced cheques entered his third day of a hunger strike yesterday.

Christopher Renehan, 38, who is seven months into a six-year term at Dubai Central Prison, began refusing food at 5am on Monday.

The father of two children last spoke with his family in Ireland on Tuesday evening.

"He's still in good form but that could change over the next day or so," said his father, Michael.

Renehan was the managing partner of a building company, Sire Contracting, and was jailed after late payments from a client caused cheques that he had written to contractors to bounce.

The hunger strike "was his final option as he was getting no joy through the courts", said Mr Renehan. "His wife and children are very upset.

"I'm going to give it until early next week and then I'm going to have to talk him out of it. We don't want anything to happen to him."

Radha Stirling, the founder of the organisation Detained in Dubai, said the strike was important for Renehan's case and the wider issue of financial crimes.

"There's a good chance that the attention raised through this hunger strike will have a positive impact on his case," Ms Stirling said.

"There have been many of these types of cases recently and hopefully it will lead to a consideration of reform of the law on bounced cheques."

But one of the contractors who is still owed money by Renehan said no allowances should be made for him.

Robert Jenkins had to close ISCS Logistics in Sharjah because he was owed Dh58 million.

"When you lose this amount of money, there's nowhere to go," Mr Jenkins said.

"He's destroyed my family and destroyed my company. I'm only in Dubai to fight this guy."

mcroucher@thenational.ae