Sunday 4 December 2016

Couple who owned six houses and spent over €500,000 on themselves lose upmarket family home

Ray Managh

Published 04/06/2015 | 12:47

Ulster Bank Ireland granted possession order against Anthony and Miriam Freeman
Ulster Bank Ireland granted possession order against Anthony and Miriam Freeman

A couple who, according to a judge, once owned six houses and blew more than €.5m (half a million) on themselves in a spending spree, lost their upmarket family home today.

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Judge Jacqueline Linnane, in the Circuit Civil Court, granted Ulster Bank Ireland a possession order against Anthony and Miriam Freeman for their Villa Park Gardens home on Dublin’s posh Navan Road.

Barrister John Donnelly told the court the Freeman’s borrowed €460,000 from the bank in 2003 and currently the balance on the mortgage stood at €590,000 which included arrears of €190,000. 

Mr Donnelly, who appeared with leading finance recovery solicitors Hugh J. Ward, said the Freemans had not made any repayments since July 2013.

Anthony Freeman, who was not legally represented, told the court his wife could not attend because of illness and they were disputing the amount being claimed by the bank.

He said orders made by Mr Justice Brian McGovern in the High Court over their challenge to the appointment of a receiver over their other properties were under appeal to the Supreme Court.

Judge Linnane said today that the Freemans had been given a final opportunity of saving their home and she was satisfied that all bank documents relating to the proceedings were in order and that 44 Villa Park Gardens was the security given against the mortgage.

She made an order for possession against the Freemans and granted them a stay of three months to facilitate their finding alternative accommodation. 

Laura Carroll, Ulster Bank’s recoveries outsources manager, said the bank wanted vacant possession of the house to facilitate a sale of the property.

Earlier Mr Donnelly had told the court that the Freemans in this case were repeating issues made in a High Court commercial investment case against Bank of Scotland, all of which had been rejected by Judge McGovern.

Judge McGovern had stated in his judgment that the couple between 1996 and 2006 had bought six houses in Dublin at Huntstown Drive, Huntsdown Wood and Willow Wood, Blanchardstown,  and at Ventry Drive and Drumcliffe Drive, Cabra West and Dunsink Green, Finglas.

He said this had been financed by First Active Building Society and later re-mortgaged with Bank of Scotland for €1,406,000.  When the First Active debt had been paid the couple had been left with a surplus in excess of €546,000 which they had spent on themselves over a period of 16 months.

Judge McGopvern said the evidence before him clearly showed that the Freemans had gone on a spending spree with the surplus, both buying expensive motor cars and at least one holiday in the US, drawing down just under $60,000 (US Dollars.)

He said Miriam Freeman had been unable to explain why so many substantial cash withdrawals had been made and why the money had not been applied towards the investment property business.

The judge said both of the Freemans had furnished misleading information to Bank of Scotland at the time they applied for the loans, grossly inflating the net profit of Mr Freeman’s window cleaning business which gave them only a modest income.

Judge McGovern, who threw out all of the issues raised by the Freemans in their High Court action against Bank of Scotland and its receiver, said the couple had sought to invalidate the appointment of the receiver over the sale of their investment properties.  It is Judge McGovern’s decision that has been appealed to the Supreme Court.

Judge Linnane today awarded Ulster Bank its costs in recovering the property.

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