Solicitor's wife 'received death threats in post'
Published 04/12/2012 | 05:00
THE wife of solicitor and businessman Brian O'Donnell has said she received death threats and hate mail in the post as a result of their court cases.
Patricia O'Donnell, who is trying to have bankruptcy with her husband declared in Britain, yesterday launched a series of attacks on Bank of Ireland, which is opposing their bid in the High Court in London.
She said the bank had engaged in an "unmitigated assault" which had stopped short of "executing" them.
As Ms O'Donnell gave evidence in an English court, a dispute over the ownership of the contents of the couple's home in Killiney and the house in London where they now live was settled in Dublin. Bank of Ireland had argued that it was entitled to the contents of both properties as part of its efforts to recover a €75m judgment granted to it last year.
The bank disputes claims that the houses and their contents were owned by the couple's four adult children via trusts and said those trusts were a "sham". No details of the settlement were disclosed.
In her first day of evidence, Ms O'Donnell denied that her allegations against Bank of Ireland were propaganda or one-sided.
She further claimed they were unable to find someone to rent their eight-bedroom townhouse in Westminster for which they pay £4,000 a month.
The O'Donnells say their centre of main interest is in London and they should be allowed to declare bankruptcy there.
The bank wants them bankrupted here where it takes up to 12 years, compared with as little as 12 months in the UK.
Mirroring the attacks that her husband made on the bank last week, Ms O'Donnell said the bank's actions were "unwarranted and unbusinesslike".
When Gabriel Moss, for the bank, suggested she was "pretty good at propaganda yourself", Ms O'Donnell said: "It is not propaganda, it is the truth".
Ms O'Donnell said the reason they had failed to pay rent on their London home in March, when they filed for bankruptcy, was because the expenses of running a large house had been offset against the rent.
She denied the €4,000 rent was "absurdly low" as suggested by Mr Moss, and said they had tried to rent the house for two years with no success.
Claims in the press about the London property market were "hyperbole", and it was hard to rent homes of high value, she said. She added that their house in Killiney had been transferred into a trust for their children after the couple "nearly drowned" on Lough Corrib in 1995.
Ms O'Donnell is expected to continue her evidence today.