herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

'You watch yourself' - O'Donnell daughter tells bank's legal team

Blaise O Donnell, pictured leaving the Four Courts
Blaise O Donnell, pictured leaving the Four Courts

THE wife and daughter of retired solicitor Brian O'Donnell displayed their anger towards a bank's legal team during the hearing of a challenge to the parents' bankruptcy.

Dr Mary Pat O'Donnell spoke with anger in her voice of "harassment and devastation" visited upon them by Bank of Ireland and its solicitors, while daughter Blaise pointed in the direction of two female members of the bank's legal team saying: "You watch yourself."

Their comments came yesterday at the close of Mr O'Donnell's case seeking to annul the bankruptcy adjudication obtained in August 2013.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello asked Dr O'Donnell if she had anything to add to her husband's submissions.

Dr O'Donnell rose from the back of the courtroom, where she was sitting beside Blaise, and said she agreed with everything her husband said.

"But I want to add I do not think you [judge] have grasped how stressful the intimidation we have been under by Bank of Ireland and Arthur Cox [solicitors for the bank] was," she said.

When the judge said she understood her argument, Dr O'Donnell said it was not an argument and became clearly angry over what she said was the "stress and harassment and devastation visited on us, and that is all I have to say".

As Blaise O'Donnell went over to her mother, the daughter pointed at two women from Arthur Cox's office and said "you watch yourself". She and her mother then left the court.

bankruptcy

Earlier, in his submissions seeking to overturn their bankruptcy, Mr O'Donnell said part of their case was that a €71.5m judgment obtained against them by the bank, and which led to their bankruptcy, had been obtained by deception.

That deception involved not just officials of the bank but named staff of Arthur Cox and senior counsel who represented the bank at hearings which led to the judgment in the Commercial Court, he said.

He and his wife had been "bamboozled" into signing the agreement under which they consented to the €71.5m judgment over a lunch hour in March 2011.

It was only late last yea, he said, when going through documentation they "really twigged what happened here" and that it was an unlicensed bank (BOIBP) rather than BOI they had been dealing with.

Where fraud is involved, as is what occurred here, there is no time limit on litigation. Bank of Ireland have never explained this position about BOIPB, he said.

Mark Sanfey SC, for the bank, urged the court, in deciding to refuse Mr O'Donnell's application, to take into account the accusations of deception in relation to not just bank officials but all the lawyers involved.

They were made against reputable people "without the slightest shred of corroboration", counsel said.

hnews@herald.ie

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