Sunday 4 December 2016

Couple who loved high life brought down with a bang

How Celtic Tiger dream turned into a nightmare

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

Published 10/05/2011 | 05:00

THEY were the Celtic Tiger pin-up couple who bought into the high life.

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DJ Carey and his partner of six years, Sarah Newman, were never far from the spotlight as they played golf in five-star resorts and attended glitzy charity functions throughout the boom.

They posed for photographs with their children from previous marriages and looked like a modern-day Brady Bunch.

But like many other Irish couples, DJ and Sarah are today suffering from a major post-boom hangover.

Despite their well-known business savvy as a couple, the attraction of bulking up their property portfolio was too strong and now they are the latest casualties of the collapse of the property market.

The bust came too quickly and now the banks are chasing the former All-Star Kilkenny hurler and his girlfriend, who made a €30m fortune from a hotel website, to pay their debts.

The banks are demanding repayments of €9.5m against the couple arising from loans and guarantees.

The ambitious couple craved success and Sarah even dished out advice to wannabe entrepreneurs on hit TV show 'Dragons' Den' where she starred as a dragon.

Their Dublin home is a magnificent gated Georgian House in leafy Monkstown. They added to their property portfolio by buying homes at the K Club and Mount Juliet and Sarah even built a chalet in the Alps, which she named after her daughter, Grace.

The chalet was put on the market a short time after opening with a cool €10.5m price tag -- but it remains unsold.

Sarah once told a magazine that she liked the thrill of building something up and then moving on. But her timing with the chalet project in Switzerland could not have been worse.

The chalet is advertised by estate agents as a rare opportunity to own a property in the fashionable resort of Zermatt.

Dominated by the 4,478m Matterhorn, Zermatt is characterised by car-free cobbled streets, gastronomic restaurants, bars, discos and chic boutiques.

Until last February, when details first emerged that three of DJ's firms could go bust with debts of €1.7m, everyone thought the couple had the golden touch. DJ had worked up his cleaning business from scratch for 18 years.

When the story broke about his business's financial problems, DJ reportedly told friends: "It's embarrassing, it's shameful, it's hurtful."

Liquidation

DJ Carey Enterprises and Alton Limited, another of DJ's companies, went into liquidation last month.

Kilkenny gardai are also continuing to probe how hundreds of thousands of euro is missing from the cleaning business. The investigation is ongoing and nobody has been arrested or charged.

Sarah, who is from Colchester, left school at 16. She was street smart with lots of ambition. Her big break in business came in 1994 when www.needahotel.com, her start-up internet firm, took off, achieving sales of €100m by 2005.

She sold it to US giant Cedant Corporation in 2006, realising a €30m personal fortune.

Irish Independent

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