Neighbour gets half of bachelor's farm after his death
Half of a 76-acre farm owned by a bachelor who died intestate in 2009 must go to a neighbour who worked at substantial underpayment for the deceased for 38 years, the High Court ruled.
Gerard Finnegan (57) is also entitled to half the value of the stock and machinery of the late James Gartland (79) who owned the dairy and dry stock breeding farm at Broomfield, Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, Mr Justice Michael White said.
The other half goes to Mr Gartland's surviving relatives, who include his brother Eugene and sisters, Margaret, Rosie, Bridget and Kathleen.
Mr Finnegan had brought a claim against Mr Gartland's sister, Margaret Hand, of Lough Egish, Castleblaney, as administratrix of her brother's estate. He claimed a constructive trust existed in his favour in relation to the entire farm.
Mr Justice White found such a trust did arise. This was based on numerous promises to Mr Finnegan that he would be rewarded in the future with an interest in the farm, after Mr Finnegan spent a substantial part of his adult life working on the farm, putting in long hours for substantial underpayment for his work, the judge said.
In making his decision, the judge was not relying on Mr Finnegan's claim the deceased promised the farm if he did not tell gardaí that he (Gartland) had sexually abused Mr Finnegan in the 1970s. Mr Finnegan claimed while working for Mr Gartland, from the ages of 11 to 20, he was sexually abused.
Mr Finnegan claimed the abuse stopped in 1979 and Mr Gartland felt sorry it had ever happened and the pair developed a great friendship.