Husband 'brought wife her tea in mornings to hide €43k arrears post'
A deserted mother-of-two has told a judge she believed her husband bringing her a cup of tea every morning was his way of keeping her away from the postman - and news that their finances were on the rocks.
Karen Jepson said in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that it was only after her husband Ian went missing that she found out their mortgage repayments were €43,000 in the red and he had a gambling problem.
"It was a shock to me... that he hadn't paid a penny off the mortgage since 2015," a tearful Ms Jepson told Judge Jacqueline Linnane as she pleaded with her to overturn a possession order on her home.
Gary Hayes, for KBC Bank Ireland, said the lender had obtained the order early last year on the couple's home at Kelly's Bay Tower, Skerries, Co Dublin, after having taken all appropriate legal steps.
Mr Hayes said the court had given the couple a three-month stay on repossession of their home but no proper appeal had been lodged or application made to vacate the order until now.
Ms Jepson, who represented herself, had belatedly asked the court to vacate the 2016 possession order as her husband had kept her ignorant of all proposed legal proceedings or registered mail deliveries regarding mounting arrears and the threat of losing their home.
"I can only surmise now that the reason he kept bringing me cups of tea in the morning was to keep me away from the postman," she said.
"He would give me post relating to ordinary matters. I did not know he was throwing away other letters without opening them."
Ms Jepson said she had gone to the bank about her predicament after her husband disappeared. He had gone missing and was presumed dead until being traced in February last year to "somewhere in the United Kingdom".
Judge Linnane heard that, prior to his turning up in the UK, gardai had carried out searches of the docks for his body after his phone had been traced to the Clontarf area of Dublin. They had even searched the attic of their home while she and their children remained downstairs.
Ms Jepson, who said she was now on social welfare of €237 a week, told the judge she believed her husband had gone to his mother's home in Ireland but was not in touch with her.
Judge Linnane said the bank had dealt appropriately with the situation and had engaged with Ms Jepson, advising her about what legal steps were open to her and that she should go to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service.
She had allowed her brother-in-law to negotiate with the bank but had not been kept fully informed by him.
She told Ms Jepson the outstanding balance on the mortgage was just over €230,000 and repayments from a social welfare allowance was unsustainable.
The judge said that, as similar houses nearby were selling for about €350,000, she should put her home up for sale.
Judge Linnane granted Jepson a stay of three months against the bank taking any further steps providing she put the house on the market.