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Mother leaves prison after purging contempt in €1m property repossession case

The woman, whose teenage children had resided at the property, was jailed by the High Court on 27 April.

Image: RollingNews.ie

A MOTHER-OF-two, who has spent the last four months in prison for failing to comply with court orders to vacate a €1 million south Dublin property, has walked free from the High Court Tuesday after purging her contempt.

The woman, whose teenage children had resided at the property, was jailed by the High Court on 27 April last over contempt of repossession orders granted to EBS Ltd in 2015, upheld on appeal but stayed until April 2017.

The property is one of six investment properties purchased by the woman’s estranged husband with EBS loans. His solicitors wrote to the lender in 2008 stating none of the properties was a family home.

EBS Ltd got a €9.4 million judgment against the man in 2011 over default of the loans which had been secured on the properties.

Beltany Property Finance acquired the loans last year and retained Paul McCann, previously appointed by EBS as receiver over the properties, to deal with them.

The woman’s husband has been adjudicated bankrupt, was alleged to have been a party with the woman in breaking into some of the properties, and had been described by the receiver as a “fugitive” from efforts to serve contempt proceedings on him.

The woman, who had previously represented herself, contended she had obtained orders in family law proceedings including a right of residence in one of the properties and claimed she would have been surrendering her family law rights if she had vacated it.

However, lawyers for the receiver denied it was a family home and said that the High Court had previously determined that any property rights the woman had were secondary to those of the receiver.

Appeal

She had appealed the finding of contempt against her but those applications were rejected by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

In June, when dismissing the woman’s appeal over the High Court’s order jailing her, the Court of Appeal stated that if there was to be any change in the status quo the woman had to face up to the reality of the situation as the law had determined it to be and purge her contempt.

At the High Court today, lawyers representing the woman said that after spending more than 100 days in the Dochas Centre she was now prepared to purge her contempt.

After counsel for the receiver said he did not want the court to accept any “mealy-mouthed” undertakings, the woman told Justice Michael Quinn she was sorry for her past breaches and gave an undertaking not to directly or indirectly interfere with the properties.

She said she would comply with the orders made by the court while conducting any negotiations with Beltany and in any legal proceedings concerning the properties.

Lawyers for the receiver had expressed their concerns about the undertakings as they did not refer to the woman’s two teenage children.

The court heard the children remained in the property while she was in prison where they are being looked after by a friend of their father, the woman’s estranged husband.

Justice Quinn said he was satisfied the woman had purged her contempt and she was released from custody. The judge accepted the undertakings meant the woman and her children must vacate the property.

He said that arrangements could be made between the woman and the receiver to remove their belongings from the property.

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About the author:

Aodhan O'Faolain & Ray Managh

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