Thursday 27 October 2016

Couple who claim they must live in Thailand in bid to adopt late son's abandoned child lose home

Ray Managh

Published 12/07/2016 | 12:46

Stock photo: Getty
Stock photo: Getty

A Dublin couple, who claim they have had to live in Thailand for several years in a bid to adopt their late son’s abandoned child, today lost their Dublin home in a bank re-possession case.

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Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard in the Circuit Civil Court that in 2009 Christopher and Elizabeth O’Brien’s son died in Thailand leaving his year-old child to the care of its Thai mother who had since abandoned it.

James P Evans, solicitor for the O’Briens, said the couple, who owe €117,000 mortgage arrears on their home at 6 the Walk, Cypress Downs, Templeogue, Dublin, were not out of the jurisdiction for financial convenience.

“Their situation has come about due to the death of their son in Thailand in 2009 and whose one-year-old child was abandoned by its mother,” Mr Evans told the court.

“They felt compelled to go to Thailand to bring their grandchild back to Ireland and had been going through an administrative process but were refused in Ireland.

“They then had to apply for the adoption of the child and believe this may take another 12 months.  They had been making payments of €700 a month towards their mortgage and can increase that figure to €1,200,” Mr Evans said.

When Judge Linnane asked Mr Evans how this level of payment would deal with mortgage repayments and arrears of €117,000, the court heard that Mr and Mrs O’Brien were attempting to engage with Permanent TSB PLC, formerly Irish Life and Permanent.

Mr Evans said the O’Briens had a daughter living in the property at The Walk, Cypress Downs, who was meant to take responsibility for mortgage repayments and who, unfortunately, had not, leading to the large amount of arrears.

He said Mr and Mrs O’Brien, for a significant period of time, believed their daughter was taking care of their mortgage and were unaware of the developing situation because their mail was not being forwarded to them in Thailand.

“When they found out this wasn’t happening they took the necessary steps to engage with the bank.  That’s the correct and accurate situation,” Mr Evans said.

They had now obviously arranged for all of their mail to be forwarded to Thailand and were attempting to come to some arrangement with the bank.

“I don’t believe they are working in Thailand but they own a number of rental properties in Ireland,” Mr Evans said.

He told Judge Linnane that all but one of the couple’s rental properties were mortgaged and when Judge Linnane asked if the O’Briens were making payments on them, Mr Evans said a financial statement of their affairs had been forwarded to the bank.

Victoria Hayes-Burke, a manager with Permanent TSB, told the court that in October 2007 the O’Briens had borrowed €380,000 from the bank and now owed €117,000 in repayment arrears alone.

Barrister Niall Mooney, counsel for Permanent TSB, said the financial statement did refer to other properties, mostly apartments, against which there were outstanding balances.

Granting the bank an order for possession of No 6 The Walk, Cypress Downs, together with its legal costs, Judge Linnane said the problem was “just not being addressed.”  The O’Briens had not even arranged for their post to be transferred and they appeared to be living permanently in Thailand.

“In some of these cases the amounts of arrears are mind-blowing,” Judge Linnane said.  “Have they not thought of selling this property? They could find themselves with an awful lot of debt due to negative equity and it might be prudent for them to come back from Thailand and address their finances face to face with their financial institutions.”

Mr Evans said they regarded No 6 as their family home and was granted a two months stay on execution of the possession order to allow the O’Briens make some further attempt to rearrange or restructure their indebtedness.

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