Tuesday 24 October 2017

Family took advantage after vigilantes forced security out of their repossessed home, judge said

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Tim Healy

A woman's family had taken advantage of the fact a vigilante group forced out a group of security men who were employed to protect her repossessed home, a High Court judge said.

While Patricia McLeish disavowed any connection with the group, it was clear that members of her family were among those taking advantage of the incident when the group drove the security out with weapons, Mr Justice Robert Haughton said.  Two of her sons are now in occupation of the house along with a third person, the court heard.

The judge was speaking when he ordered continuation of an injunction, pending full trial,  preventing trespass on the house at Clonlara, Tulla, Co Clare, by Mrs McLeish, her two sons Shane and Mark, and anyone else with knowledge of the order.  It is effective from 5pm on Thursday.

The court granted a temporary order last week after hearing affidavits outlining a violent incident when the security were ousted from the house on October 15 by a large group.

Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank obtained a possession order in 2004.  After nearly 12 years of postponements and failed legal proceedings to stop the repossession by Mrs McLeish and her estranged husband Thomas, the bailiffs moved in earlier this month. 

Mrs McLeish, in opposing the bank's injunction preventing trespass, claimed she was about to bring a new challenge to the original 2004 repossession order  on the basis the Circuit Court, where it was granted, had no jurisdiction to do so.

In the meantime, she said she would look after the house.

Mrs McLeish, who said she had a large number of children and was living in temporary accommodation in a golf course holiday home in east Clare, said she had nothing to do with the group which gathered outside the house and drove the security out. 

Nor did she have any connection with the Facebook calls for people to join the protest or with any offensive posts identifying the security people and where they live, she said.

While Mrs McLeish attended court to answer the bank's injunction application, her sons Shane and Mark, who are also defendants, had not.

The bank said the McLeishs had as recently as this month had all their claims, including that the original possession order was not valid, rejected by the High Court.   This was a "grotesque" abuse of process and Mrs McLeish had been led astray by so-called anti-eviction groups, it was also argued.

The outstanding mortgage on the house was €139,000.  The bank said while Mrs McLeish claimed it was now worth €190,000 and there would be no prejudice to the bank in refusing its injunction, she had since had a costs order made against her.

Mr Justice Haughton said while Mrs McLeish had made a number of allegations which she had not put in a replying affidavit to the bank's trespass injunction and had disavowed any knowledge of the "vigilante group", it was clear members of her family had taken advantage of the situation.   Two of her sons, one of whom is 16, were currently in occupation, he said.

The judge said he would grant the injunction but that did not stop the defendants from delivering a defence and contesting the proceedings, he said.

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