THE son of a woman suing over transactions which allegedly left her without a home and with a €2m debt today rejected suggestions he had used undue influence on her to sell her house.
Jonathan Ryan, a former banking official, said he only had his mother Elizabeth Ryan's best interests at heart when he got involved in the transactions which he says have left him and his family ruined.
He was under cross-examination on the third day of the hearing of two actions by his mother, and by him and his wife Paula Ryan, over advice they received during 2006 when he decided to take steps to secure his mother's future maintenance as well as provide him and his family with a new home.
The Commercial Court heard that until 2006 widowed Elizabeth Ryan, who is now a ward of court as she suffers from dementia, lived in Sandycove, Dublin, where she had her own home and where her son and daughter-in-law had a few years previously built a home for themselves and their children in the garden.
Mr Ryan had become increasingly concerned about his mother's mental state and in 2006 she broke her wrist and was admitted, on a short-term basis, to a Dalkey nursing home to convalesce, though she has remained there since and is in its high dependency unit, the court heard.
Around this time, Johnathan decided the best way to secure his mother's future was to sell the two houses in Sandycove and buy another which would suit her needs when she came out of the home as well as the needs of the rest of the family.
His mother gave him power of attorney over her affairs and he obtained a €4.11m loan in his mother's name from AIB to buy and pay for a bridging loan and renovations to a €3.5m house he and his wife decided to buy at Khyber Lodge, Nerano Road, Dalkey.
However, they had not sold the other two houses before this and with the collapse of the property market in 2007, the two houses
eventually sold for well-under their expected prices. Even after
paying over the proceeds of the sales they were still left with a debt to AIB of around €2m.
Elizabeth Ryan, through her court-appointed ward, is suing AIB and solicitors Joynt and Crawford, Anglesea Street, Dublin, claiming they were in breach of their duty to her when the transactions and transfer of power of attorney was carried out.
Jonathan, who formerly worked for Dutch-owned bank ING and as a relationship director with NIB but is now unemployed, and his wife Paula, who works in IT for AIB, are also suing the same solicitors for breach of professional duty.
Jonathan has told the court he and his family had been financially ruined by what had happened and that he had at all times relied on professional advice given to him by his solicitors and by representatives of the bank.
If AIB had got a judgment against him for the debt, it would affect his employability in banking. The fact that he is now unemployed however had nothing to do with this case, he said.
Under cross-examination yesterday by Bill Shipsey SC, for Joynt and Crawford, he rejected the suggestion that he himself had exercised undue influence over his mother in getting her to sell her home.
"I had her best interests at heart", he said.
Asked did he regret buying the new (Khyber Lodge) house before selling the other two properties he replied: "It did not turn out to be the most prudent decision I made."
The case continues next week.