'Deserted' mother didn't know her home was in €43k of debt
A deserted mother of two has told a judge she believed her husband’s bringing her a cup of tea in the morning was to keep her away from the postman and news that their finances were on the rocks.
Karen Jepson said in the Circuit Civil Court today that it was only after her husband Ian went missing that she found out their mortgage repayments were €43,000 in the red and that he had a gambling problem.
“It was a shock to me to discover we were in arrears of €43,000 and that he hadn’t paid a penny off the mortgage since 2015,” a tearful Karen told Judge Jacqueline Linnane as she pleaded with the judge to overturn a possession order on her home.
Barrister Gary Hayes, counsel for KBC Bank Ireland, said the lender had obtained the order early last year on the couple’s home at Kelly’s Bay Tower, Skerries, Co Dublin, after having taken all appropriate legal steps to recover the property.
Mr Hayes, who appeared with Eversheds Solicitors, said the court had given Ian and Karen Jepson a three months stay on repossession of their home but no proper appeal had been lodged or application made to vacate the order until now.
Karen Jepson, who legally represented herself, had belatedly asked the court to vacate the 2016 possession order as she had been kept ignorant by her husband of all proposed legal proceedings or registered mail deliveries regarding mounting arrears and the threat of losing their home.
“I can only surmise now that the reason he kept bringing me cups of tea in the morning was to keep me away from the postman who he was friendly with,” Karen told the court. “Of course he would give me post relating to ordinary matters such as appointments etc. I did not know he was throwing away other letters without opening them.”
Karen said she had gone to the bank about her predicament after her husband Ian disappeared overnight. He had gone missing and had been presumed dead until traced in February last year to “somewhere in the United Kingdom.”
Judge Linnane heard that prior to his turning up in the UK gardai had carried out searches of the docks for his body after his phone had initially been traced to the Clontarf area of Dublin. They had even searched the attic of their home in Skerries for him while she and their children remained downstairs.
Ms Jepson, who said she was now on social welfare of €237 a week, told Judge Linnane she believed her husband had returned to his mother’s home in Ireland but was not in touch with her.
Judge Linnane said the bank had dealt appropriately with the situation and had engaged with Ms Jepson, advising her about what legal steps were open to her and they she should go to MABS. She had allowed her brother-in-law to negotiate with the bank but had not been kept fully informed by him.
She told Jepson the outstanding balance on the mortgage was just over €230,000 and repayments from a social welfare allowance was unstainable. The judge said that as similar houses near to Ms Jepson were selling for around €350,000 she should put her home up for sale and take what equity from it as she could before it was all dissipated.
Judge Linnane granted Jepson a stay of three months from today against the bank taking any further steps in the matter providing she put the house up for sale. Failure to comply with a sale would allow the bank to move immediately to take possession of her home.