Court orders man claiming squatters rights in house bought by developer Tom McFeely to leave

Developer Tom McFeely pictured in 2013

A man has been ordered by the High Court to leave a house bought by developer Tom McFeely before he was declared bankrupt.

Joe Doyle senior claims he has never ever met Mr McFeely and he was entitled to adverse possession of the house at Meakstown Cottages, Dubber Cross, near Finglas, Dublin.

Mr Justice Senan Allen found the house was bought for €300,000 in 2006 by Mr McFeely who, in 2012, was declared bankrupt and who had that bankruptcy extended for nearly another five years in 2016.

Joe Doyle senior claimed he has acquired squatter's rights because he has lived in the house uninterrupted and unchallenged since 2004.

He claimed the property had been abandoned and he moved in, spending significant money on restoring and also built a large pigeon loft and prayer house at it.

Mr Justice Allen ruled that Beltany Property Finance, which acquired title to the property over default on a loan taken out by Mr McFeely in 2006 to buy the house, was entitled to an injunction restraining Mr Doyle from trespassing.

He will hear an application next week for a stay on his order after Mr Doyle's lawyer said he and his family would be rendered homeless by the decision.

The judge said Mr Doyle's case was that, in the summer of 2004, he told the father of one of the previous owners of the house, David and Nicola Boyle, he was interested in buying it.

In fact, Mr Doyle was not interested in doing so but gave the then owner's father the name of a solicitor to contact. Neither the owners nor the man Mr Doyle claimed he spoke to ever followed that up.

A couple of months later, it was claimed the Boyles abandoned the property which, the judge said, Mr Doyle senior "annexed".

About a year into that occupation, it was claimed that someone else using the name Joe Doyle agreed to buy it.

Mr Doyle's son is also called Joe Doyle (junior) and the father claimed his son was involved in buying and selling property but the son became angry when he found out his name appeared on documents prepared for the purchase.

Joe senior's former solicitors, Woods Hogan and Co, handled the conveyancing paperwork which was prepared and printed in the expectation the purchaser would be a "Joseph Doyle".

However, when the contract was completed, showing a purchase price with a €30,000 deposit and a €270,000 mortgage, it was signed by Tom McFeely in the presence of a solicitor in the Woods Hogan firm, the judge said.

As late as May 2018, Joe senior, who had falsely said he was interested in buying the house, was still endeavouring to "identify the Doppelganger" (the other Joe Doyle), the judge said.

The judge was not prepared to contemplate that Mr McFeely "wandered into the offices of Woods Hogan and Co and signed a contract for the purchase of this property which had been prepared for Mr Doyle junior".

Mr Doyle senior said he "did not know and had never met Mr McFeely", the judge said.

Mr McFeely also never visited the property and he was not aware he (McFeely) bought it, Mr Doyle senior said.

Mr Doyle senior also claimed that Woods Hogan confused the file in relation to him with a file and instructions he had received from his son, Joe junior.

By the time Mr McFeely was declared bankrupt in 2012, some €100,000 was paid off the mortgage.

The official assignee handling the McFeely bankruptcy surrendered the property to the bank which originally provided the mortgage and which was then taken over by Beltany.

The demonstrable fact was that the Boyles sold the house and "someone put up the money to buy it and serviced the mortgage for years", the judge said.

The judge found it incredible that whoever put up that money did so in ignorance of the fact that Mr Doyle was living. It was also incredible to suggest Mr McFeely borrowed money for the mortgage without "knowing and permitting the position on the ground".

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