Solicitor Matthew Wales loses bid to get Rolex off ex-lover
A solicitor who bought his lover expensive jewellery and an oil painting as "commitment gifts" expected to get them back after the relationship ended.
Solicitor Matthew Wales told Dublin Circuit Civil Court yesterday that he had bought the items as "commitment gifts" to his former partner but expected to get them back.
His ex-girlfriend, legal assistant Stella Conlon, won a court order to hold on to them and was awarded legal costs against her former lover.
Ms Conlon's counsel Conor Bowman told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that Mr Wales had bought Ms Conlon a diamond ring worth €12,000, a Rolex watch worth €5,000 and a Norman Teeling painting worth €5,500.
Mr Wales, of Roebuck Castle, Clonskeagh, Dublin, told Mr Bowman he bought the ring in the company of Ms Conlon and had told her it was a commitment gift given as "a token of an exclusive relationship".
Judge Linnane was told the Rolex was a Christmas gift.
Mr Wales said other items he had bought had less value and he was not interested in getting them back.
Ms Conlon, of Temple Hall, Mount Saint Anne's, Milltown, Dublin, told the court she had become aware that Mr Wales wanted the three items returned two years after their relationship ended in 2009.
She said she and Mr Wales had been in a mutual relationship from 2006 and she never expected she would have to give the gifts back.
She said she understood the ring had been given as "a sign of love".
She said Mr Wales was a generous man and she would not have accepted the gifts if she had expected the relationship would eventually end.
The court heard they had been together when Mr Wales bought the Teeling's 'Molly Malone' painting. Ms Conlon denied she had known he had hung it in her apartment temporarily. She said her friends were aware it was a gift from him.
Mr Bowman said that when the relationship ended, Mr Wales had returned to Ms Conlon's apartment in her absence, using a key he had to collect his belongings.
He said Mr Wales did not take the painting which was on the wall.
Dismissing Mr Wales's claim, Judge Linnane said Ms Conlon was entitled to retain the gifts as they had been given to her unconditionally.