Wednesday 27 March 2019

Pat Kenny claims squatters' rights as legal row escalates

Pat and Kathy Kenny's house on The Harbour Road, Dalkey, Dublin - the couple are claiming title to a plot of land nearby
Pat and Kathy Kenny's house on The Harbour Road, Dalkey, Dublin - the couple are claiming title to a plot of land nearby

Ann O'Loughlin

'LATE Late Show' host Pat Kenny is claiming "squatters' rights" over a piece of land in an exclusive suburb in a bitter legal dispute with his neighbour.

The rocky outcrop in Dalkey, Co Dublin, could be worth over €1m and now the RTE broadcaster wants an order from the High Court saying he has title to the property.

The legal row between Pat and Kathy Kenny and their next-door neighbour, retired solicitor Gerard Charlton, moved up a notch yesterday, as it emerged that the Kennys are claiming they have squatters' title to the land known as Gorse Hill Property.

The High Court also heard that the Kennys had tried to have criminal proceedings brought against Mr Charlton arising out of alleged trespass in January of this year when they were away. Mr Charlton denied the claims and the DPP has indicated charges will not be brought.

Mr Charlton also rejects the assertion by the Kennys that they have squatters' rights to the property - or adverse possession in legal terminology - which can apply where a property is abandoned for 12 years or more. Mr Kenny is claiming he locked the property from public access 16 years ago and that it has been inaccessible since then except by scaling a cliff.

Mr Charlton (72), of Maple Tree House, Harbour Road, Dalkey, claims he allowed Mr Kenny to replace a pedestrian gate at the entrance to the lands in question near Bulloch Harbour, referred to as the Gorse Hill property. He claims he had permitted the Kennys to use the land since they came to live beside him in 1988.

However, he says Mr Kenny subsequently refused to give him the code for a digital keypad installed at the new electronic gate and also sought on July 27, 2006 to prevent him from gaining access to Gorse Hill.

Mr Charlton says he and his wife Maeve acquired a leasehold interest in his Harbour Road property in 1971.

That property included his home, Maple Tree House, the lands previously known as the Quarry Field and a small plot of land adjoining the Quarry Field - the Gorse Hill property.

When the Kennys bought the adjoining lands, the Anchorage, in 1988, Mr Charlton said Mr Kenny and his wife were given a copy of the 1971 lease and were therefore aware at all times of Mr Charlton's ownership of the land.

Mr Charlton claims Mr Kenny had asked him a number of times to sell the property to him and also sought consent for the erection of a new pedestrian gate to replace the existing gate allowing access to the Gorse Hill property from the road.

While he agreed to a new gate, Mr Charlton claims his consent was not sought for an electronic digicode keypad for that gate which unlawfully restricted or prevented his access.

Solicitors for the Kennys had later written to him refuting his claim to ownership of the property and claiming that the Kennys had acquired title by adverse possession, he said.

The case, brought by Mr Charlton, was before Mr Justice Frank Clarke yesterday as Mr Charlton's side sought to inspect the land known as Gorse Hill and also to seek inspection of documents.

The court heard that in the Kennys' counter-claim they say they have acquired a beneficial interest in the property and have carried out works including fencing and gardening works over the years. They claim the property is part of their garden. They are also seeking damages for alleged trespass by Mr Charlton in January.

Mr Justice Frank Clark reserved judgment, on whether there should be an inspection of Gorse Hill, until September 7.

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