Widow 'trusted' her husband after separation
Published 19/05/2011 | 05:00
THE estranged wife of a deceased property developer told the High Court yesterday she knew her husband had offshore trusts and expected that she and her children would be included in those "like every other normal family who had trusts".
Odilla Rhatigan of 'Briodi', Brennanstown Road, Cabinteely, Dublin, said her husband Brian had told her after they separated in 1998 that she would "get half" of everything and she had trusted him.
She had not pursued a legal separation or divorce due to her husband becoming seriously ill with motor neurone disease in 2002 and then her son's suicide in 2003.
Mrs Rhatigan said she knew her husband had removed most of his assets from the country.
Her solicitor laughed, she said, when her husband claimed after the couple had separated that he was a consultant earning only €30,000 a year.
The solicitor asked him how he was paying his wife €70,000 a year and driving a Bentley.
Her husband liked to show his wealth via expensive watches, Bentley cars and property, she said. He worked a lot and she lived a "lonely life".
A month after her husband died, his "right-hand man", Paddy O'Sullivan, asked her not to prevent the proceeds of the sale of property from going out of the country, she said.
She told the court that she agreed after Mr O'Sullivan had told her the monies were going to a trust and that she would be able to avail of this.
She said Mr O'Sullivan and Sharon Scally, Mr Rhatigan's solicitor, were her husband's eyes and legs after he became ill and she believed they worked together in relation to the administration of his estate.
James Dwyer SC, for Ms Scally, said that was not correct.
Mrs Rhatigan also said her husband initially denied that he was having a relationship with Rachael Kiely, but she asked him to leave.
Mr Rhatigan (60), who lived with Ms Kiely at Chantilly, Ballybride Road, Rathmichael, Dublin, signed a will in May 2005 in which he made Ms Scally, a co-executor. Another executor has since died.
A legal warning or 'caveat' was entered to the will on behalf of Mrs Rhatigan in November 2008, which resulted in Ms Scally seeking a court order admitting the will as Mr Rhatigan's last will and testament.
Mrs Rhatigan has counter-claimed that she is entitled to half his estate and alleges that Mr Rhatigan set up a trust to defeat or diminish her rights.
Last December, Ms Justice Laffoy ruled that Mr Rhatigan was of sound mind when he made his will. He may have deliberately limited the assets which would pass on so as to exclude his wife and perhaps the Revenue from recourse to those assets, the judge said.
The case continues.