Judge warns mother not to interfere in sale of her family home
A MOTHER of one has been warned she will be found in contempt of court if she tries to obstruct the sale of her family home.
Paula Hatton, a former 'Irish Times' marketing executive, was accused of "deliberately interfering" with the sale of the house that she co-owns with her former partner, Barry O'Keeffe, night editor of the 'Irish Times'.
Ms Hatton still lives in the house with her young daughter.
The five-bedroomed property at Boroimhe Poplars, Forest Road, Swords, Co Dublin, was ordered to be sold last October by Judge James O'Donohoe at Dublin Circuit Court.
He ordered the sale if Ms Hatton, who is unemployed, was unable to raise €125,000 to pay Mr O'Keeffe his share of the property, which also comprises a collection of art and collect-ables.
Yesterday, Ms Hatton was summonsed to appear again before Judge O'Donohoe, facing claims that she was in breach of the court order by deliberately interfering with the sale of the house.
Clive Brennan, for Mr O'Keeffe, claimed she had put off potential buyers by following them around the house and pointing out a fault with the gas system, while she had suspended other viewings.
Ms Hatton, who did not have legal representation, denied obstructing the sale and pointed out that while one offer of €350,000 was currently on the table, other houses in the immediate area were on the market for €500,000 or €520,000.
Judge O'Donohoe told her that this was a "very serious" situation, adding: "You are in breach of a court order so I'm holding you in contempt."
Ms Hatton tried to explain that she was not interfering in the sale, but the judge cut her off, saying: "I'm not interested in what you have to say."
Warning her not to engage with potential buyers, he said "any offer approaching €400,000 has to be accepted".
Ms Hatton told the judge she lives in the house with her daughter, adding: "We don't have anywhere else to live."
Judge O'Donohoe told her he would put back the case for seven days in which to comply, saying she would otherwise be found in contempt of court.
He also ordered the appointment of auctioneers Herman Wilkinson to dispose of the sale of the collectables.
A previous court hearing was told that Ms Hatton and Mr O'Keeffe had lived together at a house at Ormond Crescent, Swords, owned by Ms Hatton. In 1999 they decided she would sell her home and jointly buy the Forest Road house.
Ms Hatton took redundancy from the 'Irish Times' in 2002 and shortly afterwards the relationship ended. Mr O'Keeffe left the house in 2004.