Friday 19 January 2018

Retired High Court judge in legal dispute over €16m sale of mother's estate with sister he calls ‘deluded’

Former judge Barry White
Former judge Barry White

Tim Healy

Retired High Court judge Barry White is embroiled in a legal case over his mother’s estate – with his sister Aideen Doyle rejecting his claims that she was suffering from delusions.

Aideen Doyle, otherwise Clodagh White, is suing two sisters, as administrators of their mother’s estate, claiming she is owed at least €350,000.

She claims this should be her share of the €2.5m to €2.9m extra that could have been achieved from the sale of the family home ‘Chimes’ on Mount Anville Road, Goatstown, Dublin, which sold in 2007 for around €16m.

Niamh and Derval White, both of Mount Anville Road, Goatstown, were administrators of the estate of their mother Emily G White, the High Court heard. Mrs White, who died in April 2001, was married to Kevin White and they had seven children.

Ms Doyle says there was an offer of €19m from developer Niall Mellon on the table at the time of the sale, which she says the sisters rejected in breach of their duty as administrators. She says she is entitled to at least €350,000 along with 8pc interest – a one-seventh share of the additional amount that could have been achieved.

The court has heard Ms Doyle, of Coliemore Road, Dalkey, Dublin, has been estranged from her family for many years. She claims she had been told by a number of people she was fostered to the Whites and while she was treated as a member of the family she says she was not the natural daughter of Emily and Kevin White.

Ms Doyle also said she had copyright to a work of fiction called ‘A Web of Deceit’ about six siblings, including a fictional High Court judge who was involved in fraud. It was a work of fiction, she said.

On Wednesday, retired Judge White gave evidence on behalf of his two sisters, who deny Ms Doyle’s claims. Mr White told the court there were doubts over the offer by Mr Mellon, whom he described as a “maverick”.

His sisters deny they rejected advice from auctioneering experts, or that a genuine €19m offer was received, or that Ms Doyle suffered a loss. The sisters also deny her claim she was paid €1.2m from the estate in 2002.

When the case resumed yesterday for submissions from both sides before Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, Desmond Murphy SC QC said his client wished to refute evidence given by Mr White that she suffered from delusions. She was upset and wanted to submit psychiatric reports to the court, counsel said.

Ciaran Foley SC, for the sisters/administrators, objected, saying Ms Doyle was out of the witness box at this stage.

After Mr Justice Humphreys said the time for disputing evidence was when a person was being cross-examined, Mr Murphy said he would leave the matter to the court but he wanted it on record that Ms Doyle was not accepting the evidence of Mr White.

Mr Murphy said it was his case the defendants had gone against the advice of experts when the Mellon offer was available.

At no stage during the evidence was it suggested Mr Mellon was a maverick or did not have the money to pull off the deal, counsel said. The sisters, as administrators, were not entitled to “gamble with the estate”, he added.

Mr Foley said the court had to take into account the credibility of Ms Doyle and her mindset. It was against a background of claims by Ms Doyle she had been a “swapped baby” and where she had, in her evidence, “played ducks and drakes” with the court, he said. There was no doubt there was evidence of concern in the family for her but it was quite clear she had a perturbed mind, he said.

Mr Justice Humphreys adjourned the case for completion of submissions.

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