herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Gerry's ex sister-in-law is barred from moving back into home she sold

A HIGH Court judge has granted a perpetual injunction preventing a mother-of-two re-occupying her former family home in a row over the sale of the house for development.

In 2007, Janice O'Brien, a former sister-in-law of the late broadcaster Gerry Ryan, agreed to sell her home at 28 Clontarf Road in Dublin to developers for €785,000 in exchange for an apartment in nearby Glenbrian Hall, Howth Road, worth €450,000, and a payment of €335,000 with €125,000 upfront.

She became unhappy with the deal and with the apartment, and moved back into her former home using a spare key she had kept, the court heard.

Two developers who made the deal with her, Martin Walsh and Patrick O'Donnell, with an address at Glenbrian Hall, then got an injunction restraining her from entering the house pending legal proceedings.

Following a hearing, Mr Justice George Birmingham yesterday granted the two men a perpetual injunction.

The judge said notwithstanding the sense of grievance she had about the deal, there was "no possible justification" for the reoccupation of her former home.

It was quite simply an act of trespass and the plaintiffs were entitled to an injunction to restrain any repetition.

He dismissed a counter-claim by Ms O'Brien seeking to set aside two contracts related to the deal and damages for breach of contract.

Outlining the background, the judge said Ms O'Brien had lived at Clontarf Road with her two daughters and her husband, but by 2007 the couple were estranged. Mr O'Donnell and Mr Walsh had co-operated in the development of the Glenbrian Hall apartment complex.

They were put in touch with Ms O'Brien through her mother, who in 2004 sold part of her back garden, also in Clontarf, to the two men for development, the judge said.

The August 2007 agreement, signed by Ms O'Brien without legal advice, was to sell the house and, in tandem, she was to buy the three-bed Glenbrian apartment from Mr O'Donnell's wife, Catherine O'Donnell, who was the beneficial owner of that property.

The price for the house was €785,000 and the apartment was to be sold for €450,000 to Ms O'Brien, including an upfront deposit of €125,000 related to the difference between the two properties.

Ms O'Brien then got a solicitor and she appeared to have "second thoughts" about the deal, believing the €785,000 was an undervaluation and that the apartment she was getting should be more valuable, the judge said.

However, she was prepared to proceed with the arrangement.

At a meeting with Mr O'Donnell on October 16, 2007, Ms O'Brien recommitted to the deal and Mr O'Donnell agreed to make an additional interim payment of €10,000 on top of the €125,000. She was under considerable financial strain at this stage, the judge said.

A "myriad of difficulties" followed the conveyancing of both properties, the judge said, but Ms O'Brien and her children eventually moved into Glenbrian.

However, she became "increasingly unhappy" saying the property was damp, the judge said.

The court heard evidence she had not had it surveyed before buying it and she also had a conservatory built on to it which may have caused the damp, the judge said.

Following correspondence between lawyers for both sides, Ms O'Brien then asserted that the contract for the apartment was set aside and the contract for the Clontarf Road house was rescinded.

hnews@herald.ie

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