A judge has given artist and former international model Jennifer Fitzgerald three months to quit her home in Sorrento Rd, Dalkey, and hand the keys back to a bank.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard in the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin that Fitzgerald’s former husband, Colin Hayes, had recently signed an agreement to the bank repossessing the property, which was named Xanadu.
Anne Lawlor, counsel for London-based Tanager Limited, which had taken over Bank of Scotland’s mortgage book, told the court there was an outstanding debt of €1.8m on the property, including €200,000 arrears.
She said nothing had been paid off the mortgage since 2010 and that Ms Fitzgerald was now opposing the bank’s application for possession of the house, in which she still resides.
Judge Linnane rejected as “simply untrue” a sworn claim by Ms Fitzgerald that she had not freely and legally given her consent to the raising of mortgages by her then husband.
She had told the court that she had been forced by Mr Hayes “under duress” to sign documents retrospectively agreeing to the 2005 mortgage and to his raising a second mortgage with Bank of Scotland in 2007 for investment purposes, with her home put up as security.
The judge said Ms Fitzgerald’s signature to the agreements had been given in the presence of and witnessed by a solicitor who had given her independent legal advice.
The court heard the property had been valued at €1.9m in 2005 and the initial mortgage had been taken out for €1,125,000.
Ms Fitzgerald, who had been made a notice party to the bank’s application for possession, stated that the property was originally held in their joint names.
She said that, in September 2005, her husband had transferred it into his sole name. In November 2007, she had come under huge and intolerable pressure from him to sign an agreement relating to the loans.
She said she was totally dependent on him financially and he had threatened her that she would have no monies if she did not sign. She was not aware she was consenting to the 2005 loan retrospectively while, at the same time, agreeing to Xanadu being used as security for investment loans.
Judge Linnane said the bank had comprehensively shown that Ms Fitzgerald’s consent had been freely given and that she had been fully legally informed.
She granted the bank possession of Xanadu and awarded costs against Ms Fitzgerald, giving her three months in which to vacate the premises.
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