I was victim of vampire-like demands, claims Byrne

SOLICITOR Thomas Byrne has claimed before the Commercial Court he was the victim of “vampire-like demands for capital” by property developer John Kelly over a 10-year period but never received any profits from several ventures in which both men were involved.

Mr Kelly had warned that if Mr Byrne didn’t put up money, the “house of cards would come crashing down” and Mr Byrne would be “the first victim”, Mr Byrne said. When Mr Kelly reached his own ceiling of borrowing, he had introduced Mr Byrne to banks to get loans and would frequently say the next big deal “would sort everything out”.

Mr Kelly would often say that, while he didn’t “want to sound like Del Boy, this is our year, we are so close, next year we will be multi-millionaires,” Mr Byrne said.

Mr Byrne made the claims in an affidavit opposing proceedings in which Mr Kelly is seeking judgment for some €6.1 million against Mr Byrne over the handling of a property deal.

Mr Byrne rejects the claims and says he will counter-claim for sums of €30m, to include claims for a beneficial interest in the Co Wexford property as well as other properties in Dublin and London.

The action by Mr Kelly, of Hunters Moon, Kilquade, Co Wicklow, was admitted by Mr Justice Peter Kelly to the Commercial Court yesterday. Mr Kelly is seeking judgment for some €6,118,690 against Mr Byrne, whose practice at Walkinstown Road, Dublin, has been closed by the Law Society.

Mr Byrne denies the claims and contends Mr Kelly is cynically trying to use the court to perpetrate an injustice.

Mr Kelly alleges that, in September 2006, he bought for €3m a 16 acre site with development potential near Oilgate, Co Wexford. He claims he secured a €9m loan facility from IIB Bank on conditions, including his discharging an outstanding loan to EBS Building Society over properties held by him at James Street, Dublin 8, and putting in place a first legal charge over those properties in favour of IIB Bank.

He said he instructed Mr Byrne about the financing arrangement and authorised him to carry out all the necessary transactions.

Mr Kelly claims the €9m loan was duly drawn down by Mr Byrne from IIB Bank as his agent but Mr Byrne failed to secure the registration of Mr Kelly’s interest in the Oilgate property and also failed to take steps to discharge the loans from EBS to him or to discharge EBS’s security over the properties at James Street, Dublin 8.

Mr Kelly claims he has been forced to maintain, to date, repayments of the €9m loan. He also claims Mr Byrne had, in an affidavit to the Law Society of properties in which he claims a legal or beneficial interest, referred to a site at “Oyle (sic) Gate, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Purchase price: €2m; Held in Mr John Kelly’s name, purchase price provided by Deponent Byrne”. Mr Kelly said Mr Byrne’s claim to have paid the purchase price was “utterly incorrect”.

Rejecting the claims, Mr Byrne said he had a partnership agreement with Mr Kelly and Mr Kelly’s partner, Mary O’Connor.

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