Winnipeg fashion titan Peter Nygård was found guilty of contempt of court in the Bahamas on Tuesday and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine or be jailed for 30 days.
The decision by Justice Stephen Isaacs is the latest chapter of a bitter court fight betweenNygård and his billionaire neighbour Louis Bacon, an American hedge-fund manager, at Lyford Cay, a private community on the western tip of New Providence Island.
Nygård's legal dispute with Bacon alleges Bacon colluded with others to damage Nygård's reputation and to remove him from his Lyford Cay home and get his permanent Bahamian residency revoked. Nygård also claims Bacon conspired with the CBC to supply false stories about Nygård, specifically a Fifth Estate story that aired April 9, 2010.
Nygård was found guilty of disobeying a court order pending a full hearing of the case, which is set to begin Feb. 5. That court order prohibited any alterations to a roadway adjacent to Nygård's and Bacon's properties.
Neither Nygård nor Bacon were in court when Issacs read out his decision, determining that shortly after the court order was imposed,Nygård's employees removed several coral stones and destroyed several plants owned by Bacon and raised the part of the road's surface at the front gate to Nygård's property. Nygård also removed the gates to Bacon's property.
Issacs said in his decision Nygård "broke a solemn obligation" to the court.
"If left unchecked, Nygård's conduct after June 13, 2012 would tend to erode the public confidence that the judiciary shall subject all parties appearing before it to the rule of law," Issacs said in his decision. "It matters not that a party passionately believes in his case, self-help justice of the nature seen in this case must be stopped as a matter of urgency by the regulatory coercive powers of the court."