A WOMAN claims her former boyfriend used cash from the running of a farm they bought together to later buy most of the property in secret for himself after their relationship broke up.
Marie Caffrey, a farmer and trainee nurse in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, from Loughduff in Cavan, claims cattle dealer and farmer John Coyle, from Breahy, Edgeworthstown in Longford, unjustly enriched himself from the proceeds of the sale of their 132 acre farm for €1.23m in December 2008.
She says Mr Coyle bought it unknown to her, along with his cousin Seamus Coyle, after he (John) warned off other potential purchasers that it was his land.
She wants the High Court to award her €150,000 compensation because his obstruction over the sale led to a delay during which the property market greatly deteriorated.
She also says he used funds from the running of the farm to buy it for himself which by then included a new house they had planned to live in together.
Mr Coyle says she is making "wild allegations" and there was no secret purchase but that it was bought by his cousin with the intention that the entire farm would go to the cousin if he (John) was unable to come up with finance for 78 acres of the land, including the new house.
Ms Caffrey (42) agreed in evidence yesterday she only put €68,000 into repaying the original loan they got for buying the farm in 2004 for €1.1m while he put €384,000 to pay off the debt.
Mr Coyle also says he paid for most of the yet to be completed planned marital home, costing €288,000. Her claims that he was now living in the house with his new girlfriend were untrue because it did not have a stairs or a kitchen and he has no girlfriend, he also says.
The case was adjourned until today (Thursday) after Mr Justice Paul Gilligan advised the parties to "take a step" back following evidence from Ms Caffrey.
Opening the case, Richard Lyons SC, for Ms Caffrey, said their relationship began in January 2003 and in September 2004 they decided to buy the farm for €1.1m at Coole, Castlepollard in Westmeath.
Ms Caffrey also owned two farms totalling nearly 100 acres in Cavan while Mr Coyle already owned another 60-acre farm in Edgeworthstown.
She put up €116,000 for the deposit, which was later repaid to her, and also put up her two debt-free Cavan properties as security for the remaining borrowings they took out, totalling €1.27m.
The property was bought in Ms Caffrey's name in order that she could avail of a €100,000 stamp duty exemption for young farmers, although this was ultimately clawed back by Revenue because the property was re-sold within five years, counsel said.
The court heard there is now €307,000 in a solicitor's joint account from the proceeds of the the sale which both are equally entitled to.
Ms Caffrey says however she should be awarded at least another
€150,000 for a number of reasons, including because, she says, he obstructed the sale including by pulling down "for sale" signs.
telling people not to go to the auction because it was his land. She
also claims he told prospective purchasers who came to view it to "get off the property or he would shoot them."
Ms Caffrey told the court that although the initial intention was that they would both run the new farm together, John increasingly took control and the breaking point was when he sold 35 of her cattle for
€28,000 but when she asked him about them, he insisted they (cattle) were still on his land. He had also sold timber from mature trees on the land for €80,000, baled silage for €17,500 and also received rent from letting out the land, she claimed.
Under cross-examination from Peter Bland SC, for Mr Coyle, she denied there was an agreement with John that they would both sell sites from the own individual farms to pay off the loan for buying the farm. It was incorrect to say she had received offers totalling up to €270,000 for three sites of her own land but had refused to accept them.
She agreed Mr Coyle had paid €384,000, including €210,000 from the sale of sites on his own land, to pay off the loans while she had only contributed €68,429.