Wednesday 24 January 2018

Doctor tells High Court she will be ‘destitute’ if forced to leave home

Aodhan O'Faolain

A RETIRED consultant doctor who claims she is the victim of an alleged fraud by former friends will be left destitute if she is forced to leave her home, the High Court has heard.

Dr Rani Hithavachani (71) has asked the court for an injunction preventing farmer Michael Forde and his wife Frances from taking possession of her home at Fairgreen Park, Letterkenny, in order to satisfy a judgment of €37,000 obtained against her at Donegal Circuit Court in 2003.

The Fordes, of The Elms, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, sought judgment against her for services they say they provided on her behalf while they had power of attorney over her related to dealings with two properties, for several months in 2002.

She claims the Fordes arranged for her to be committed to Letterkenny Hospital, where she remained until she was rescued by other friends in early 2003.

Dr Hithavachani, who has been living in Donegal for many years, wants the injunction to remain in place until the outcome of the full trial of the dispute.

The Fordes have opposed her action and their lawyers say the action is an attempt to frustrate the judgment obtained against Dr Hithavanchani.

Desmond Murphy SC, for Dr Hithavanchani, told the court the case was "a bizarre one by any standards" but an injunction should be be granted to prevent his client from being made homeless.

Counsel said his client became friendly with the Fordes in 1999. They became aware of difficulties she had in acquiring a house and selling her own property. 

She claims they offered her help through a barrister friend of theirs called "Hilary" who they said had easy access to the judges in the Supreme Court and considerable power and influence.

"If such a barrister exists I would like to know who they are," counsel said, adding it was his client's case this person was invented to obtain dominion over her.

In July 2002 on Hilary's advice, conveyed through Fordes, his client's husband Dr Abraham Kanaparthy left the country. At the time he was facing a criminal allegation, counsel.

It is alleged the Fordes drove him to Derry Airport.  Her husband, who she says wanted to contest the allegations against him, travelled to India.

Between August and September 2002 it is alleged the Fordes got Dr Hithavanchani to make withdrawals of cash from bank accounts in various currencies to be given to Hilary, who had had the means to obtain excellent exchange rates. That money it is claimed was used for the Fordes’ benefit.

Counsel said his client signed over power of attorney in favour of the Forde's at a solicitors office in August 2012.  It was her  case that the power of attorney was not validly executed and was revoked in December 2002.

No enquires were ever made by any party why this occurred, or if his client was suffering from a mental health condition, counsel added.

It was also represented to her Hilary had obtained protection for her to go to India. She claims the Fordes tried to have her vacate her home, and that she was encouraged to return to India to join her husband. When she refused to go she claims she was threatened and assaulted by the defendants.

In October 2002 she claims the Fordes helped arrange her committal to the psychiatric unit at Letterkenny Hospital. She also claims while she was in hospital the Fordes tried to get her to sell her home to them for less than half its estimated value.

Counsel said his client did not attend the Circuit Court action, but accepts she was legally represented there and did not attend them and only now fully understands the enormity of those proceedings.

 

Andrew Whelan Bl for the Fordes said the court should not grant the injunction, and the Circuit Court order should not be altered in any way.

 

Counsel said Dr Hithavani's application for an injunction was "vexatious"and "an attempt to frustrate" an order made several years ago.

 

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said he would give his ruling in October.

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