O’Donnell says bank harassed her family

Daughter warns Bank of Ireland’s legal team to ‘watch yourself’

Mary Patricia O’Donnell spoke out in the High Court yesterday of “stress and harassment and devastation” visited upon her family by Bank of Ireland and its solicitors.

Dr O’Donnell was joined in court by her daughter Blaise O’Donnell, who pointed in the direction of two members of the bank’s legal team and said: “You watch yourself.”

The wife and daughter of retired solicitor Brian O’Donnell displayed their anger towards the bank’s legal team in the High Court yesterday during the hearing of a challenge to Mr and Dr O’Donnells’ bankruptcy.

Their comments came at the close of Mr O’Donnell’s case seeking to annul the bankruptcy adjudication the bank obtained against them in August 2013.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello asked Dr O’Donnell if she had anything to add to her husband’s submissions.

“ I do not think you have grasped how stressful the intimidation we have been under by Bank of Ireland and Arthur Cox [solicitors for the bank] was,” said Dr O’Donnell.

As Ms O’Donnell went to her mother, she pointed in the direction of two women from Arthur Cox’s office and said: “You watch yourself.” She then took her mother’s arm and both left the court, which rose for five minutes.

Earlier, in submissions seeking to overturn their bankruptcy, Mr O’Donnell said part of their case was that a €71.5m judgment obtained against them by the bank, which led to their bankruptcy, had been obtained by deception.

That alleged deception involved not just officials of the bank but named staff of Arthur Cox and senior counsel who represented the bank at hearings which led to the judgment in the Commercial Court, he said.

He and his wife had been “bamboozled” into signing an agreement under which they consented to the €71.5m judgment over a lunch hour in March 2011. They were told “take it or leave it” at 1.05pm by Arthur Cox and there could be no changes and that the judge would be available to mark judgment against them at 2pm.

It was only late last year, when going through documentation, that they “really twigged what happened here” and that they had been dealing with an unlicensed bank — Bank of Ireland Private Banking (BOIBP) — rather than Bank of Ireland.

Mark Sanfey, counsel for the bank, urged the court, in deciding to refuse Mr O’Donnell’s application, to take into account the accusations of deception he had “bandied about” in relation not just to bank officials but to all the lawyers involved. They were made against reputable people “without the slightest shred of corroboration or any explanation”, said Mr Sanfey.

Ms Justice Costello said she was reserving judgment.


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