Sunday 21 April 2019

O'Donnell son's lonely call to tell parents to leave home

O'Donnells still in mansion last night despite court order

Brian and Patricia O'Donnell
Brian and Patricia O'Donnell
Trespass proceedings are pinned to the gate of Gorse Hill. Photo: Colin Keegan

Mark O'Regan

SOLICITOR Brian O'Donnell and his wife remained in their mansion in Killiney last night, despite their son being instructed by the High Court to telephone his parents and tell them to leave.

It was another day of high drama as the family kept up an intense legal battle to try and hang on to their luxury home.

The family's home
The family's home

Mr Justice Brian McGovern refused an injunction preventing Bank of Ireland seizing control of Gorse Hill, a hilltop mansion in Killiney, south Dublin.

Trespass proceedings have now been lodged against Mr and Mrs O'Donnell, and the legal papers were delivered to the property yesterday afternoon. They should be "affixed" to the front gate if necessary, the court heard.

Hours later, shortly before 7pm, two men from the receivers appointed to Brian O'Donnell's house nailed a court order to the gates of the property.

The men first attempted to contact the occupants of Gorse Hill over the intercom, but when nobody came out to take the notice to vacate, they nailed the document, inside a white plastic envelope, to the wooden gate.

A man arrives to nail documents to the front gate of Gorse Hill, a hilltop mansion in Killiney, Co. Dublin belonging to Brian O'Donnell and his wife. Photo: Damien Eagers
A man arrives to nail documents to the front gate of Gorse Hill, a hilltop mansion in Killiney, Co. Dublin belonging to Brian O'Donnell and his wife. Photo: Damien Eagers
Blake O'Donnell arriving at the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Courts Collins
John Martin of the Land League speaks to the media outside Gorse Hill in Killiney, the home of solicitor turned billion euro property investor Brian O'Donnell
Gorse Hill, the opulent Killiney, Co Dublin home of the O'Donnell family
Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary
The O'Donnell siblings Blake, Alexandra and Blaise
John Martin, a Land League member and a family member at the entrance to the front door of Gorse Hill. Photo: Damien Eagers

John Martin of the New Land League phoned the O'Donnells to say that the court order had arrived and the document was removed from the gate and brought into the house by another member of the anti-repossession movement, Jerry Beades.

If the O'Donnells do not comply with this order by 4pm today, then the case will be heard by the High Court tomorrow.

However, speaking at Gorse Hill, Mr Beades said the family are "physically drained" after the proceedings over the last number of days and indicated that they do not intend to vacate the property.

Addressing Blake O'Donnell, the couple's eldest son, at yesterday's hearing, Justice McGovern told him to leave the court and to telephone his parents to inform them they must leave the property.

Mr O'Donnell said he thought it was "ridiculous" that he was being asked to call them.

He then turned to barrister Cian Ferriter, for the bank, and said "if he [Mr Ferriter] wants to communicate with my parents, he should communicate directly with my parents...not make me go out to phone my parents."

Justice McGovern then warned Mr O'Donnell, saying: "We can do this the easy way, or make it more difficult.

"I would have thought that as a solicitor, at least in the courts of England and Wales, and an officer of the courts there, that you would be anxious to co-operate and facilitate a court order.

"If you are unwilling to do so, then so be it, I will have to take other steps."

Despite his initial reservations, he then said he was "more than happy to assist the court".

"I am directing that you contact your parents by telephone, to inform them of the making of this order," Justice McGovern said.

Following a brief recess, during which time Mr O'Donnell phoned his parents, he returned to the court, and was asked by Justice McGovern whether they have agreed to vacate the property.

Mr O'Donnell replied: "They do not accept that the receiver has the right to the property."

"I'm sure you as a solicitor know, and I'm sure your father as a former solicitor knows, the consequences of frustrating court orders," said Justice McGovern. When asked if he would like to say anything else, he said: "I'd just like to say that we will be appealing."

The former high-profile legal eagle and property developer Brian O'Donnell barricaded himself inside the house, once valued at €30m, with the help of the New Land League. Mr O'Donnell, along with his wife Mary Patricia and children Blaise, Blake, Bruce and Alexandra, had been ordered to vacate the property by noon on Monday.

 

TIMELINE: THE LONG BATTLE OF GORSE HILL

January 2011: Bank of Ireland sues the O'Donnells for the repayment of almost €70m in property-related loans.

March 2011: The lender and the O'Donnells settle the case with agreement that they will pay back the debt by November.

December 2011: The bank returns to court and secures a €71.5m judgment against the couple after they failed to make two repayments, totalling €28m, agreed in the March deal.

March 2012: The O'Donnells file for bankruptcy in London.

July 2012: The bank appoints Tom Kavanagh as receiver. The couple claim the house at Gorse Hill, Vico Road, Killiney in Dublin was held in trust for their four adult children.

December 2012: A London court dismisses their UK bankruptcy petition.

August 2013: The four O'Donnell children fail in their attempt to get the High Court to prevent the bank from seizing control of the property.

May 2014: O'Donnell children appeal to the Supreme Court.

February 2015: O'Donnells told to leave house by March.

March 2015: O'Donnell children surrender Gorse Hill - but a court is told Brian O'Donnell is asserting a 'right of residence'. Members of the The New Land League turn up at the house.

Irish Independent

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