Healy O'Connor

Estate of Ward of Court

A High Court Judge has warned a Co Wexford man he faces being sent back to Mountjoy Prison if he fails to provide a full and simple explanation about what happened to almost €1 million from the estate of a person who is a ward of court.

The man was committed to Mountjoy Prison in late July after being found in contempt of a court order requiring him to furnish details concerning the money transferred from the ward’s bank account to accounts under the man’s control.

The court-approved committee set up to manage the affairs of the person, who was made a ward in 2009, brought proceedings against the man after it discovered almost €1 million of the ward’s money had been transferred into accounts in the man’s name. The court heard some of it was used to buy agricultural machinery and property in Poland.

The man denies any wrongdoing and has told the court he has “nothing to hide”. Yesterday at the High Court Mr Justice Seán Ryan released the man from prison as he was satisfied he was making attempts to deal with matters.

A court order is in place prohibiting the media from publishing anything that would tend to identify the ward.

Rita Considine, for the committee set up to manage the ward’s affairs, said that last July Mr Justice Roderick Murphy

jailed the man after finding he had failed to comply with a court order to provide information and financial details about the money.

Counsel said the matter had been before the High Court on a number of previous occasions. On each occasion the matter was adjourned to allow the man obtain the information, but on each occasion the man, counsel said, “did nothing”.

The committee says that the man, who claims he is holding the money in trust for the ward, unduly influenced and put strong pressure on the ward to sell their home in Dublin, and to acquire a property in Co Wexford.

The committee is further seeking judgment of €937,000 against the man, as well as an order for possession for the Wexford property which was purchased with the proceeds of the sale of the ward’s home in Dublin.

The committee also obtained a series of injunctions against the man preventing him from reducing, transferring or dissipating assets below a value of €937,000 and to provide details of what happened to the money transferred from the ward’s account.

Yesterday the man, who was not legally represented, said he had been trying to obtain the information required but it had proven difficult. In an affidavit to the court the man has claimed the ward wishes him to inherit their estate.

Mr Justice Ryan, in adjourning the case until September, said he wanted to make it “crystal clear” to the man what the court wanted was simple details of what happened to the money and “not some version of War and Peace.”

(The Irish Times, 11th August 2011)

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