Thursday 18 January 2018

Son 'ruined' trying to secure mother's future when she lost home

Jonathan and Paula Ryan, of Nerano Road, Dalkey, Dublin. Photo: Collins Courts
Jonathan and Paula Ryan, of Nerano Road, Dalkey, Dublin. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

THE son of an elderly woman suing a bank and a firm of solicitors over a series of transactions which allegedly left her without a home and a €2m debt said today he had been "financially ruined" trying to secure his mother's future care and accommodation.

"My attempts to provide for my mother have failed utterly,"  Jonathan Ryan told the Commercial Court


He made the comment in a statement to the court in proceedings by him and his wife Paula Ryan and by his mother Elizabeth (88), who is a suffering from dementia and is a ward of court, over the transactions and legal advice surrounding them.


Elizabeth, through her court-appointed ward, is suing  AIB and Joynt and Crawford Solicitors, Anglesea Street, Dublin, claiming they were in breach of their duty of care when Jonathan decided to secure his mother's future by selling off her home and his own family home which were on adjoining sites at Castlepark Road/Breffni Lane, Sandycove, Dublin.


Jonathan, who works for the Dutch-owned bank ING in its Dublin office, and his wife Paula, who works in IT for AIB,  are also suing the same solicitors for breach  of professional duty in relation to the advice given during the transactions.


The defendants deny the claims with the bank accusing Jonathan and Paula Ryan of fraudulent misrepresentation by not telling it that their mother was suffering from dementia.  The Ryans deny this and say the bank knew she was in a nursing home.


Mr Ryan today told Robert Barron, counsel for Elizabeth Ryan, that in the early noughties he became concerned about his mental health of his mother who lived alone and had been widowed in 1986.


While she had always been an independent person, Mr Ryan said he became concerned she might be robbed when there were incidents including one in which she allowed into her home a man who asked was she interested in selling furniture.


Mr Ryan looked at getting her into sheltered accommodation but she was found not to be medically suited to this facility.


When, in May 2006, she fell and broke her wrist, she was persuaded to convalesce in a Our Lady's Manor nursing home in Dalkey because her son and daughter-in-law, who have three children and both worked, would not be in position to provide the care she needed.


She was only to stay there on a short term basis as Mr Ryan and his wife decided they would sell their own house and his mother's house and use the funds to buy another house suitable for all their needs as well as establish a €1m fund for Elizabeth's future care and maintenance.


Even though his home had only been built a few years earlier, it was inadequate and open plan and would not be suited to his mother while her house was old and would require substantial investment to make it suitable, he said.


"It was my hope we could bring my mother back (home)".


After some difficulties finding an alternative house, they found Khyber Lodge, Nerano Road, Dalkey, and decided - even though they had not sold the other two houses - they should buy before somone else did and paid €3.5m for it.


Mr Ryan obtained power of attorney from his mother while she was in the nursing home which allowed him to buy Kyhber Lodge in his mother's name so as to minimise his tax liability with a mortgage of €4.11m advance by AIB for the purchase and for bridging finance in Elizabeth's name.


Mr Ryan said Joynt and Crawford provided professional services for the signing over of power of attorney and the purchase of the new house, but at no stage was he warned about the risks involved to his and his mother's assets.


By the time they did sell, the property bubble had burst with Mr Ryan's house achieving a sale price of €1.95m when €2.5m was anticipated.  His mother's house got an initial offer of €3.4m, which fell through, as did four other offers before the price dropped to €1.4m in 2010 when it eventually sold.


Even though most of the proceeds of these sales went to pay off the €4.1m loan, there was still a debt to AIB of nearly €2m.


Mr Ryan said he felt "badly let down" by Joynt and Crawford and that his mother's interests had not been best served.  "My family and my mother are financially ruined," he said.


The case continues.

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