Curtains come down on case of missing drapes worth €24,500
THE case of the missing curtains provided a rare glimpse yesterday into the way "the other half" live.
Marie Dowling, a woman who rented a plush mansion for €5,500 a month, was ordered by a judge to pay €24,500 to replace curtains which went missing from the five-bedroom Georgian house.
Ms Dowling, who had previously spent €7m renovating her home in Wicklow, was ordered to pay businessman Michael Kelly a further €2,500 for the reinstatement of Georgian-style wallpaper that she painted over in the rented house.
The judge at Dublin Circuit Civil Court heard that Ms Dowling moved into the opulent home with her partner, golf professional Gordon Steen, after the break-up of her marriage.
She had previously lived at Derrybawn House, near Laragh in Co Wicklow, buying it for €2.85m in 2001 with her husband. She then transformed it into a small, private hotel, which was available to rent for €10,000 a week.
But in March 2007, following the marriage split, Ms Dowling leased Chigwell, Glenamuck Road, Foxrock, Co Dublin, from Mr Kelly for two years for a rent of €5,500 a month, the court heard.
When she left the house without notice in January last year, two months before the lease was up, Mr Kelly discovered that heavy curtains were missing from the five bedrooms and there was no trace of two period mahogany chairs.
The court heard some of the curtains, including expensive drapes from the master bedroom, had later been found in an outhouse and had to be dry cleaned and rehung. Other curtains had to be replaced.
Dry cleaning of the curtains had cost €2,275 and new curtains cost €21,321.
Georgian-style wallpaper on the hall, stairs and landing had been painted over by a decorator employed by Ms Dowling. Repapering would cost €2,500.
The court heard that Ms Dowling had spent €7,000 doing up the house after she moved in. She had immediately stopped painting over the wallpaper when she found out that she had no permission to do so.
Ms Dowling said she had replaced the master bedroom curtains and stored the existing ones, covered in plastic, in the outhouse. Any curtains that had been in the house when she arrived had been in place when she left.
Ms Dowling, whose address was stated as Chigwell, Glenamuck Road, Foxrock, said she knew nothing of the disappearance of the two mahogany chairs. They were in the house when she had left. The judge said there was a direct conflict of evidence between both parties but that the case was not one of who was lying.
It was a matter of whose recollection was most acceptable, with whatever corroboration was possible to be gleaned from the evidence.
He felt that Mr Kelly, with the help of a professional soft furnishings expert who had assisted at an earlier refurbishing of the house, had marginally crossed the line.
Court orders totalling just over €27,000 and legal costs were made against Ms Dowling in favour of Mr Kelly.