Monday 23 September 2019

Woman sues former friends over €282,000 they claim she gave as a gift

A woman has sued a couple who were formerly her best friends, claiming a sum of €280,000 she gave to them was a loan and not a gift as they maintain. Stock image
A woman has sued a couple who were formerly her best friends, claiming a sum of €280,000 she gave to them was a loan and not a gift as they maintain. Stock image

Tim Healy

A woman has sued a couple who were formerly her best friends, claiming a sum of €280,000 she gave to them was a loan - and not a gift, as they maintain.

The sum was part of €750,000 secured by Fidelma Kerrigan in 2010 over serious personal injuries she suffered in a road accident in 2002 in which her father died, the High Court heard.

It is claimed Ms Kerrigan, as a result of her father's death and her injuries, was deeply depressed when, two weeks after getting the compensation in August 2010, she handed over €280,000 to John and Jacqueline Keenaghan.

She claims it was to help them set up a counselling business or until Mr Keenaghan, an architect, had completed projects. It is alleged Ms Keenaghan was crying as she feared for their home.

The couple have since had their business set up but have not repaid Ms Kerrigan, who is now on social welfare payments, the court was told.

The case opened this week before Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy who said it was "never too late" to consider an agreed rather than imposed outcome.

Influence

She said these "unhappy events" were reminiscent of what Shakespeare said: "Neither a borrower nor lender be."

Ms Kerrigan (59), of Benildus Avenue, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, claims it was agreed at all times the money was a short-term loan.

The defendants, of Rathmore, Ballyshannon, say the money was a gift and deny exercising undue influence over Ms Kerrigan.

In cross-examination by Desmond Murphy SC, for the defendants, Celine Kerrigan, sister of Ms Kerrigan, denied she had supported the view the money was a gift.

A consultant psychiatrist, Dr Mary Maguire, said Ms Kerrigan had said Ms Keenaghan kept asking her about her personal injury claim and allegedly kept telling her the Keenaghan family were going to lose their home and could not afford to eat.

When Ms Kerrigan gave the money, she was on medication and had been hurt when Ms Keenaghan had gone on holidays to the US.

Dr Maguire said Ms Kerrigan came across as "naive", "childlike" and "very caring".

The doctor believed Ms Kerrigan had so many problems mentally and physically at the time, she would be susceptible to emotional distress she perceived in another person.

Irish Independent

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