Builder used 'undue influence' to inherit €500k house, court told
A BUILDER who befriended an elderly woman some years before her death allegedly used undue influence to get her to change her will, worth an estimated €500,000, and leave it all to him, the High Court heard.
Claire Browne, who was single, died aged 88, in November 2011, having been in Clonskeagh Hospital in Dublin since 2003 where she had been assessed at different times with varying degrees of dementia.
In September 2008 she made a will leaving to builder Noel Wright her main asset, her former home in Beach Road, Sandymount, Dublin. It is now vacant, boarded up and worth an estimated €500,000, the court heard.
Mr Wright, Kiltipper, Tallaght, Dublin, says he carried out work on her home and got to know her very well while she was in hospital. Mr Wright's father had been a good friend of Ms Browne's late brother Edward.
Edward had a son and daughter and the court heard the daughter, Jacqueline Mary Maryon, who lives in South Africa, is now contesting the 2008 will.
Ms Maryon says the court should declare that a previous will made by her aunt in October 1976, leaving everything to Edward, was her true last will and testament. If this was so, the proceeds would be divided between Ms Maryon and her brother as beneficiaries of their father's estate.
Joseph Jackson BL, for Mr Wright, said his client became friends with Ms Browne after she was first admitted to hospital with injuries from a fall.
Three years before her death, in September 2008, she appointed Mr Wright sole executor and sole beneficiary of her will while in hospital.
Solicitor Tim McIniry was present during discussions about the will but he was not present when it was drawn up and it appears to have been drawn up by Mr Wright himself, Mr Jackson said.
When Ms Maryon brought proceedings challenging the will, Mr Wright asked the court to order she provide security of legal costs should she lose the case.
Vinog Faughnan SC, for Ms Maryon, said his client was arguing that Ms Browne did not have testamentary capacity to make the will and that undue influence had been used.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan adjourned the hearing to next month.