Saturday 16 December 2017

Wife-killer Lillis granted his share of Celine's assets

Aoife Finneran

WIFE-Killer Eamonn Lillis is entitled to a half share of the assets he jointly owned with his late wife Celine Cawley.

The ruling means Lillis will retain co-ownership of the family home in Howth, north Dublin, with his daughter Georgia (19).

His daughter had previously said in an affidavit she would rather have "pins stuck in her eyes" than to have her father come within six miles of her.

Lillis (53) was not in court yesterday as the ruling was delivered by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy. He is currently in prison.

Lillis is serving a sentence of six years and 11 months for the manslaughter of his wife.

His 46-year-old wife Celine died after being struck in the head with a brick in the patio of the couple's home Rowan Hill, Howth, on December 15, 2008.

Lillis is entitled to a half share in assets including the couple's family home, which has been estimated at €1.5m in value.

The assets also include apartment in nearby Sutton with an estimated value of €190,000-€200,000 and several investments worth some €68,000.

The other half share goes to the estate of the late Ms Cawley, the High Court ruled yesterday.

Another property in France is the subject of separate legal proceedings yet to come before a court there.


The late Ms Cawley's siblings Susanna and Christopher Cawley, both administrators of the estate, and daughter Georgia, all appeared in court yesterday.

They argued that Lillis had forfeited his interest in the properties due to his actions and conviction for manslaughter. They sought a ruling which would result in all assets being transferred to Georgia.

In an affidavit read to the court during last month's hearing, Georgia denied claims by her father that she had entered into an agreement with him that he could return to the family home after his release from prison. She also expressed her deep hurt over the actions of her father.

As Ms Justice Mary Laffoy yesterday ruled in Lillis's favour, she said "it was not possible to conclude that Lillis's share in the joint assets was automatically severed on the death of Ms Cawley".

However, she also ruled that Lillis must account for his dealing with the joint assets since Ms Cawley's death, including for the rent received for the apartment in Sutton.

She also called for laws to be introduced to deal with property rights in the event of one co-owner unlawfully killing another.

There was an absence of legislation empowering the court to interfere with Lillis's existing rights, the judge added.

Ms Justice Laffoy said the court "had no element of discretion" to grant the order sought by the Cawley family, when the principles of law were applied.

She said issues raised in the case demonstrated that legislation should be in place "that prescribes the destination of co-owned property in the event of the unlawful killing of one of the co-owners by another".

She asked both parties to enter into discussions on how to divide the joint assets, with a view to avoiding any further litigation.

She added that if no agreement could be reached, the Cawleys could seek various orders. These could include orders for the sale of lands and distribution of the proceeds. The matter will be returned to the courts in January.

Irish Independent

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