Monday 24 November 2014

Now Ryan family fear they'll lose their home

Drug link puts payout from life assurance policy at risk

Ken Sweeney, Anne-Marie Walsh and Tom Brady

Published 13/12/2010 | 05:00

THE late broadcaster Gerry Ryan's former wife and children fear losing their family home in the wake of last week's shock inquest finding that cocaine triggered his death.

It is understood the couple remortgaged their family home in Clontarf on a number of occasions before Mr Ryan separated from his wife Morah.

But because illegal drugs played a role in the broadcaster's death, the life assurance policy guaranteeing his income and mortgage payments may not be paid out.

A source close to the family last night told the Irish Independent: "The verdict, death by misadventure, is not good. I don't know what the implications of a verdict like that are for the home, but it doesn't look good.

"Morah has no means to support the family -- she is a full-time mother."

Mr Ryan's partner, UNICEF executive director Melanie Verwoerd, has also been left "traumatised" by the shock inquest verdict.

She told the hearing she was not aware Mr Ryan had ever taken drugs throughout their two-year relationship.

A friend of Ms Verwoerd last night said: "She is totally traumatised -- she is too distressed to talk this weekend."

Most insurance policies will not pay out if a death is drug-related. The small print in insurance forms for everything from mortgage protection to car insurance specifically excludes payment in cases involving drug abuse.

Mr Ryan purchased the cream-fronted five-bedroom period house on Castle Avenue in Clontarf in the mid-1990s. Estimated to be worth more than €1m, the last extension to the listed property was masterminded by TV architect Duncan Stewart.

Mr Ryan often spoke with pride about the striking corner house on one of upmarket Clontarf's most sought-after streets on his daily radio show.

A close friend of the broadcaster said it came as a huge blow to the star when he had to move out of the family home after his marriage of 26 years broke down in March 2008.

"The house represented everything to Gerry," the friend told the Irish Independent.

"For a start it was the family home. It was also the house of his dreams. Gerry had grown up in Clontarf and always wanted to go back there. Himself and Morah lived in nearby Marino for a while but through all his hard work Gerry managed to buy his dream house.

"His home on Castle Avenue meant everything to him and to leave his family home behind and move into a city-centre apartment broke his heart."

Financial pressures are also said to have forced Mr Ryan to remortgage the family home before he moved out.

Veteran RTE broadcaster Gay Byrne yesterday revealed he attended a dinner organised by friends of Morah Ryan over the weekend to show her their support.

He said Mrs Ryan was coping with the controversy and publicity surrounding his death.

"She is fine and her main concern now, of course, is for her family. That is all I can tell you," he told listeners to his programme on RTE's Lyric FM.

Former RTE presenter Gareth O'Callaghan last night revealed he offered to help his friend beat his long-term drug addiction, but the broadcaster refused to accept his help.

Mr O'Callaghan is a qualified clinical psychotherapist and one of Mr Ryan's few friends who has been willing to comment publicly on last week's inquest finding.

Habit

The broadcaster revealed he approached Mr Ryan on at least two occasions to get him to take the first steps to kick his cocaine habit.

He also revealed how he came under fire at the weekend from former RTE and radio colleagues for speaking about the extent of his tragic friend's drug abuse.

"I got a couple of phone calls from individuals who were very annoyed with my comments," he told the Irish Independent.

"My reaction was 'Why were they worried when there was not one word of a lie?'"

Mr O'Callaghan also called for a garda inquiry into his friend's death.

"Gerry was clearly mixing with people who were able to make it (cocaine) available to him. He didn't just stumble on a supplier over a weekend in a nightclub in Dublin. There were trustworthy suppliers and he would have been brought into a very inner sanctum."

Meanwhile, gardai last night ignored growing calls to investigate Mr Ryan's death in the wake of the inquest's finding.

Senior officers again insisted there were no grounds for opening up a criminal investigation into Mr Ryan's death.

Gardai said that if they had information or evidence that warranted an investigation immediately after his death, it would have been initiated.

Irish Independent

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