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Thursday 26 April 2018

Elderly mother forces son to leave home - after he changed the locks

Patrick Joseph Fitzpatrick leaving the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Paddy Cummins/
Patrick Joseph Fitzpatrick leaving the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Paddy Cummins/

Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

A woman in her 70s has secured a High Court order requiring her son and daughter-in-law to leave her home.

Elizabeth Stanley, who lives with her husband Jim, was granted the injunction against Patrick Joseph Fitzpatrick (46) and his wife Aine.

Mrs Stanley claims that last Saturday Patrick and Aine broke the lock on the front door and entered the farmhouse in Co Laois when she was out.

It was also alleged that Patrick had new locks fitted on the doors and the couple refused to leave. Mr Fitzpatrick's actions, it was claimed, caused great distress to the Stanleys, who felt "under siege" in their own home.

The injunction was put in place pending the outcome of the full hearing of the dispute regarding the property at Rahandrick, Ballacolla, Portlaoise. Mr Fitzpatrick lives in Swords, Co Dublin and his wife works as a nurse at Beaumont Hospital.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who opposed the application and denied any wrongdoing, claimed he is co-owner of the property, which his mother disputes.

Mr Justice Colm McEochaidh said Mr Fitzpatrick had acted in "an aggressive and high-handed manner".

He directed Mr Fitzpatrick to hand over all keys he has to the property, and also made an order preventing him from being at the property until the case has been determined.

Seeking the injunction, barrister Peter Bland for Mrs Stanley said the case involved "an unfortunate dispute between mother and son".

The relationship between them was not "healthy" due to the "irrational" behaviour of her son, counsel said - adding the Stanleys were "in fear" and had left the house to stay with a relative.

The court heard that Patrick is a son from Mrs Stanley's marriage to the late Francis Fitzpatrick, who died in 1970. She has lived on and held sole beneficial occupation of the farm, which had been registered in the late Mr Fitzpatrick's name, since then. She married Jim Stanley in 1976.

Counsel said Mr Fitzpatrick was "consumed with the notion" he has an interest in the ownership of the property. This was not the case, counsel said.

He said the matter has an "unhappy history", as Mr Fitzpatrick previously brought proceedings against his mother seeking an interest in the property. The High Court dismissed the claim.

Counsel said Mr Fitzpatrick had difficulty in accepting the decision, which was not appealed.

In 2012 Mr Fitzpatrick, who lived and worked abroad for many years, gained access to the property and also refused to leave.

Eventually the locks of the property had to be changed.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who is an unemployed biochemist, rejected the claims of wrongdoing made against him. Representing himself, he said he was entitled to be at the property.

He said the court was not being told the truth, and added that he was "absolutely no threat to anyone".

He said he only changed the lock on the front door of the house, and gave his mother a key. He did this because he had been locked out of the house by his mother.

He asked the court to adjourn the matter as his solicitor was away. Further proceedings in relation to the property are due before the Circuit Court in October, he said.

In his ruling, the judge said he was satisfied Mrs Stanley was entitled to an injunction against her son, and directed him and his family to leave the house by 7pm yesterday.

Given that the High Court had previously ruled on the dispute between the parties, Mrs Stanley had made out an arguable case that an injunction should be granted, the judge said.

The judge also found that damages would not be an adequate remedy. He also awarded costs of the proceedings against Mr Fitzpatrick.

Irish Independent

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