Friday 9 December 2016

Wife-killer Eamonn Lillis faces massive legal bill

Tim Healy

Published 22/02/2012 | 05:00

WIFE-KILLER Eamonn Lillis is facing a massive bill after he was ordered to pay the overwhelming majority of the legal costs of a dispute with the family of his wife over their joint assets.

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Lillis was convicted of killing his wife, Celine Cawley, with a brick on the patio of the family home just over three years ago.

His assets are understood to be half of the joint estate he held with his late wife -- estimated to be worth around €1m.

But the High Court yesterday ruled that the cost of the legal action brought by his daughter, Georgia, and Ms Cawley's brother and sister should come "off the top" of the proceeds from the sale of those assets.

Lillis will then pay his own costs from his half-share of the estate, less the Cawleys' costs. It means he will in effect pay half their costs and all of his own.

Legal sources indicated that the High Court costs of the action would be in the region of €100,000, but Ms Justice Mary Laffoy had earlier said the vast bulk of the costs in the case had been accrued before it reached the High Court.

Yesterday, Georgia (18), her uncle Christopher and aunt Susanna left the courtroom smiling. The court had already ruled there should be a 50/50 split of these assets between Lillis and the Cawley estate.

But Ms Justice Laffoy yesterday said it was only fair that the Cawley side should get its costs from the proceeds of the sale of the joint assets before they are distributed. Mr Lillis was not in court yesterday.

Georgia, Christopher and Susanna spent a short time talking with their lawyers outside the courtroom before leaving. Georgia and her uncle declined to comment.

Last December, Ms Justice Laffoy ruled that Mr Lillis (53) was entitled to his half-interest in assets jointly owned by himself and the late Ms Cawley (46).

He was convicted of her manslaughter at their home in December 2008 and is currently serving a sentence of six years and 11 months.

Christopher and Susanna, as joint executors of the Cawley estate, and later Georgia -- who was joined in the proceedings on the instructions of the judge -- asked the High Court to prevent Lillis securing any interest in around €1m worth of assets jointly owned by him and his wife.

The assets include the family home at Rowan Hill, Howth, Dublin, worth around €800,000; an apartment in nearby Sutton, worth around €190,000; and around €68,000 in investments and bonds.

The court heard last week that an agreement had been reached as to how the 50/50 split of the assets should proceed after it was decided that Lillis was entitled to a half share.

There was, however, the outstanding issue of costs.

The Cawley side argued that only they should get costs, particularly because there had been a failure by Lillis to engage with their side up until six days before the case got under way.

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Mr Lillis' counsel argued that they were entitled to their costs because an offer to divide the assets equally had been made, albeit at the eleventh hour.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Laffoy said that while the case had raised a difficult point of law, in essence it involved a contest between Ms Cawley's estate and Mr Lillis as to the beneficial ownership of jointly held assets.

The judge said the proceedings were necessary because Mr Lillis had not responded to five letters from the Cawley side as to what claim he (Lillis) was making to the assets.

No resolution could have been achieved unless he was made a party to the court proceedings, she said.

The court resolved the issue of whether the Cawley estate became sole beneficial owner on her death, which was caused by a criminal act of Lillis, by finding he had a half share in the assets, the judge said.

Irish Independent

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