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Ryan's former sister-in-law in house row as deal goes sour

A FORMER sister-in-law of the late broadcaster Gerry Ryan has become embroiled in a bizarre property row.

Janice O'Brien, the ex-wife of his brother Michael Ryan, used a spare key to move back into a house she had just sold.

Ms O'Brien made a series of claims about Mr Ryan's drug use prior to his death, saying she once witnessed Ryan crawling "around on the floor" looking for tiny remnants of cocaine.

The High Court yesterday granted an injunction preventing the mother-of-two from re-occupying her former family home following a row over the sale of the house for development.

It has emerged in court that she agreed to sell her seafront home on the Clontarf Road in Dublin to developers for €785,000 in 2007.

In a deal with the developers, she agreed to buy a nearby apartment in Glenbrian Hall on the Howth Road, for €450,000. However, she subsequently became unhappy with the deal and with the apartment and moved back into her former home, using a spare key.

Two developers who made the deal with her, Martin Walsh and Patrick O'Donnell, with an address at Glenbrian Hall, then got an injunction restraining her from entering the house.

In the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice George Birmingham granted the two men a perpetual injunction.

The judge said there was "no possible justification" for the re-occupation of her former home.

Ms O'Brien had lived at the Clontarf Road house with her two daughters and her husband, but by 2007 the couple had become estranged.

Mr O'Donnell and Mr Walsh had co-operated in the development of the Glenbrian Hall apartment complex and were put in touch with Ms O'Brien through her mother.

The August 2007 agreement, signed by her without legal advice, was to sell the house and, in tandem, to buy the three-bed Glenbrian apartment from Mr O'Donnell's wife, Catherine O'Donnell.

The price for the house was €785,000 and the apartment was to be sold for €450,000 to Ms O'Brien.


She then got a solicitor and she appeared from time to time to have "second thoughts" about the deal, believing the €785,000 was an undervaluation and that the apartment she was getting should be more valuable.

At a meeting with Mr O'Donnell in October, 2007, Ms O'Brien recommitted to the deal.

Mr O'Donnell agreed to make an additional interim payment of €10,000 on top of the €125,000 that had already been paid to her.

She was under considerable financial strain at this stage, the judge said. A "myriad of difficulties" followed the conveyancing of both properties but Ms O'Brien and her children eventually moved into the apartment.

She subsequently became "increasingly unhappy", saying the property was damp.

Following correspondence between lawyers for both sides, Ms O'Brien said the contract for the apartment was set aside and the contract for the Clontarf Road house was rescinded.

In April 2009, Ms O'Brien, accompanied by members of her family, went back into Clontarf Road using a spare key.

The developers then took proceedings.

The judge said it was an act of trespass and the plaintiffs were entitled to an injunction to restrain any repetition.

He dismissed a counter-claim by Ms O'Brien seeking to set aside two contracts related to the deal and damages for breach of contract.

There was no answer at either of the properties yesterday.

Irish Independent