A deserted mother-of-two has told a judge she believed her husband 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 told the Circuit Civil Court yesterday 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 Ms Jepson 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.
Ms 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," she told the court.
Ms Jepson, who is on social welfare of €237 a week, said she had gone to the bank about her predicament after her husband disappeared overnight. He had gone missing and had been presumed dead until traced in February last year to the UK.
Judge Linnane said the bank had dealt appropriately with the situation and had advised Ms Jepson about what legal steps were open to her. She told Ms Jepson the outstanding mortgage balance was just over €230,000 and repayments from a social welfare allowance was unsustainable.
The judge said that as similar houses nearby were selling for around €350,000 she should put her home up for sale and take what equity she could before it was all dissipated.
Judge Linnane granted Ms Jepson a stay of three months from today providing the house was put up for sale. Failure to comply would allow the bank to move immediately to take possession of her home.