Tuesday 28 February 2017

Stage has been set for yet another Twink battle

After a nasty divorce, the ill-starred entertainer is now fighting to keep a roof over her head, writes Jerome Reilly

Adele Condron King, has had a life peppered with hard knocks -- not least being abandoned by a philandering husband for a woman 25 years to the good with whom he started a new family.

It couldn't get much worse could it? But it can and it has.

Just as Twink untangles herself from the emotional debris of the public disintegration of her marriage, which included the notorious "zip up your mickey" tirade, along come the bailiffs seeking the roof over her head.

In five weeks' time, she will enter stage left at the County Registrar's Court in Dublin and explain why Bank of Scotland (Ireland) should not repossess Idrone House -- the imposing two-storey mansion on the southside of Dublin she bought with her ex-husband David Agnew.

The mansion is a beauty -- though the nine colonial-style Georgian windows that gives the facade such gravitas no longer look out on the rolling countryside of the Barony of Rathdown.

These days the mundane comings and goings of a Superquinn car park spoil the southern aspect.

No matter. At the height of the property boom it was a €2.5m pile -- not bad digs for a jobbing entertainer who makes most of her living from the pinched environment of the Irish stage and her former husband -- an oboist with the state-funded RTE Concert Orchestra.

The five-bedroom house, officially 2 Idrone Avenue, Knocklyon, originally came on to the market in September 2000, but auctioneers Douglas Newman Good withdrew the house from sale seeking in excess of €850,000. It is safe to say that when Twink and David Agnew secured the property some time later they paid closer to €1m plus stamp duty. Then they embarked on a €390,000 revamp -- made all the more costly because the house is a protected structure of architectural significance. The renovation job ended in tears and Twink found herself, not for the first time, involved in litigation over money --this time with her builders. In 2006, Twink and her, by now, bitterly estranged hubbie had to pay €19,000 to Ballyview Builders.

The company had demanded an outstanding payment of €26,577 for the work but the couple refused to pay claiming a snag list had not been completed. After a marathon dispute, the Circuit Civil Court was told the claim had been settled. The case was struck out in July 2006 with an order for judgment against Twink and her husband for €19,000 to be executed by October 1 that year.

Two years earlier, the ill-starred couple agreed to have a new boundary wall fronting Idrone House replastered following prosecution by South Dublin County Council for failing to comply with planning permission.

Then they had a problem with yobs spraying graffiti on the same wall and trespassing on the acre or so of landscaped gardens. Even before they ran into mortgage problems in the last year or so, the property had not been lucky. It was also the stage where the final scenes of their tempestuous marriage were played out.

The femme fatale was Ruth Hickey, the then 29-year-old clarinetist who played in the same orchestra as David Agnew. Ruth and David had known each other a long time before Twink learned of the affair. He moved out in 2004 and, all of a sudden, the two-income, one-house family was sundered.

It is almost inevitable that after a rancorous divorce finances suffer. Bank accounts are the first casualty of a marriage break up.

David Agnew moved in with Ruth with whom he had a baby and Twink was left at Idrone House. At the same time, their talented eldest daughter Chloe (20) was finding her feet in the world of entertainment and would soon be touring the US and releasing albums and DVDs with the phenomenally successful Celtic Women franchise.

Idrone House, now with only her youngest daughter Naomi (15) and her menagerie of dogs and cats for company, must have been lonely but the mortgage still had to be paid.

Twink had, for some time, maintained what she liked to call a "dignified silence" over the end of the marriage, but, by accident or mischief, an explosive rant delivered to David Agnew's message minder found its way into the public domain.

Twink's fury was boundless when she heard her love rival "had a baby for" David. Among the choicer titbits: "If I could, I would smack your f****** face off".

Then she poured scorn on his new penchant for shaving his head to disguise a receding hairline. It made him, she said, look like "a middle-aged prick". She told him to invest in Regaine instead.

Finally the coup de gras. With contempt dripping from every vowel she told him to "zip up his mickey" -- a phrase so colourful that it was soon adorning blackmarket T-shirts. The tirade became a hit on YouTube with 157,150 hits so far.

So that was the "dignified silence" out the window. Women understood her unbridled fury and admired the sheer chutzpah of her furious invective. But that was nearly four years ago now and Twink though deeply wounded is, at her core, a tough cookie. After a period of grieving, during which time she admitted she drank too much red wine, she hit the gym four times a week and emerged physically and emotionally stronger and a svelte size eight.

And she is a grafter willing to work all the hours God sends. Tomorrow night she will be in Cork Opera House for a performance of Menopause The Musical and she is writing her autobiography as well as working on her Sugar Craft cake-making business.

"I can't work any harder and there are only 24 hours in any given day," she said in a statement after the threat of repossession on Idrone House came before the courts.

An application was lodged on Monday by Bank Of Scotland (Ireland) to repossess her family home, though how much she owes the bank was not made clear.

But Twink has been here before. She has twice stared bankruptcy in the face and survived. She has also faced proceedings to have another former home repossessed but held on to her home.

At least part of her previous problems came after she was stiffed by rogue solicitor Elio Malocco who was not only her legal adviser but a supposed friend. His betrayal set up a chain of events which left Twink battling in court over debts on two properties.

It happened like this. Twink bought her first home, 25 Anne Devlin Road in Templogue, in late 1982, early 1983 with an Irish Permanent Building Society Mortgage of €25,000.

But Twink always harboured big dreams and eight years later, having met and married David Agnew, she was ready to trade up.

From childhood she had been entranced by a beautiful period house called Cooleven which was on its own grounds surrounded by mature trees on Butterfield Avenue, Templeogue.

She had known the house well because she had been childhood friends with Mairead O'Donoghue, the daughter of the former owner of Cooleven Johnny O'Donoghue, who owned the nearby Orchard Inn pub.

Twink and David Agnew bought Cooleven (built at the turn of the century for a gentleman called Mr McClintock-Dicks) in 1990 with a mortgage of £117,000 from the First National Building Society. In 1990 that was big money at a time when interest rates were around 13 per cent.

Twink and her husband renamed their new home Beaufort House and set out to tastefully restore the imposing Victorian house to its former glory.

It was expensive work and money difficulties arose. Twink and her husband racked up arrears of £13,556 on her mortgage on her new house on Butterfield Avenue and First National Building Society applied to the courts to repossess the house.

Twink's personal finances were not helped by the imposition of an £11,000 penalty by the producers of a panto in the Gaiety. Twink took the night off from the panto to appear with Perry Como on his Christmas special televised from The Point Depot to a worldwide audience of 880 million. Twink thought it would help her break into America but she ended up paying the producers of the Gaiety panto the equivalent of a night's takings.

Twink was already in financial trouble when she was hit by another bodyblow.

To fund the purchase of Beaufort House she sold her first house at Anne Devlin Road using the legal services of her friend, solicitor Elio Malocco. But unknown to Twink, Malocco had failed to hand over the proceeds of the sale to the Irish Permanent Building Society to redeem the mortgage.

The first Twink heard about it was when Irish Permanent demanded the outstanding £10,725 in arrears on the Anne Devlin Road mortgage. Now she was fighting legal proceedings from two building societies on two mortgages.

The Law Society later paid off all the monies and interest accrued because of Elio Malocco's theft of the proceeds on the Anne Devlin Road property. Malocco was later sentenced to five years for fraud, forgery and deceit relating to £68,500 which he had been given by the Irish Press to deal with libel actions. His misappropriation of funds hastened the demise of the newspaper group.

Eventually a settlement was also achieved by Twink and her husband on the mortgage arrears relating to Beaufort House and Twink saved her dream home by the skin of her teeth.

But she was left facing substantial legal bills which were to give the couple sleepless nights for years afterwards.

Two years later, in 1996, it was revealed in Stubbs Gazette that the Collector-General had secured a judgment of £19,170 for unpaid taxes against Twink.

Twink and David Agnew later sold Beaufort House to a property developer and the house now lies vacant and derelict, boarded up with crude plywood shuttering.

They planned a new start at Idrone House but soon after they moved in, their marriage hit the rocks and now Twink faces another battle to stop her home being repossessed.

Speaking earlier this month on Brendan O'Connor's new Saturday night chat show, Twink revealed that she was embarking on an autobiography to raise funds to keep the home she shares with her daughters.

"It's not that I particularly want to do it. I put off the offer for years.

"I tell you, it's a little matter of a costly divorce and trying to keep my house and I finally decided I would say yes," she said.

After last Monday's court proceedings, Twink issued a statement. She said: "I have joined the ranks of thousands of other people in Ireland who have had their treasured family home repossessed by banks or building societies. For me, this was an inevitable event waiting to happen. I can totally empathise with women, men and single parents all over Ireland today," she said.

"Unfortunately, I find myself in this current situation no different to half of the country that have lost their jobs or that, like me, are single parents trying to pay my mortgage bills and raising two children on my own.

"I am actively working on a solution to this situation and I hope to be able to keep this roof over my family's head. It would appear that the trick is to owe the banks and building societies millions, not thousands, that way you walk away scot free," she said.

The application for repossession was adjourned for six weeks.

Sunday Independent

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