O’Donnell’s must vacate ‘bog standard’ mansion by tomorrow evening

Gorse Hill
Gorse Hill

Bankrupt brief Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia have been ordered to leave their hilltop mansion in Killiney before 5pm tomorrow evening.

The family - who sought to be allowed continue living in their palatial mansion despite being €71.5m in debt - have lost their bid to remain in the property.

In the last few minutes, Mr Justice Brian McGovern has granted a trespass injunction against Mr O’Donnell and his wife, saying they have no right of residency in the property.

He said the couple are "trespassing on the property".

They have until tomorrow evening to get their affairs in order, and to remove their possessions from the property.

Mr O'Donnell told the court he "will be appealing."

He appeared at the High Court shortly after 11am, after leaving the Gorse Hill property at the centre of this legal battle earlier this morning.

Addressing Mr O'Donnell, Mr Justice McGovern reminded him he does "not own the property".

"The defendants reside in the United Kingdom...their centre of main interest is in the United Kingdom," he said.

"The status quo is that these matters have been ruled upon."

He accused Mr O'Donnell of inviting "third parties" who are "wholly unconnected with the matters in dispute" onto the premises.

"The purpose of these third parties being present was to prevent the receiver from entering on the premises to take possession," he added.

Cian Ferriter, SC for the bank, demanded that the couple "deliver up" the keys, alarm codes, and "other security and access devices" to the receiver, Tom Kavanagh.

He said Mr Kavanagh is "anxious" to seize control of the house "as soon as is reasonably possible."

He is "anxious to ensure" that this is done in a "calm and dignified manner, he added.

He then proposed that the receiver "liaise" with Mr O'Donnell today to arrange a suitable time for the couple to "vacate the premises". 

"Mr Kavanagh is now legally entitled to take possession, and it's a question of arranging logistics, from the perspective of having entitlement of possession, to facilitate Mr and Mrs O'Donnell."

Mr Ferriter said he was anxious to avoid a situation whereby discussions are played out "in public."

He proposed that talks should take place in the "next couple of minutes, or half an hour."

Mr O'Donnell then rose to his feet, and requested a stay of six months.

"We will be appealing these orders," he added.

When Mr O'Donnell questioned whether friends and relatives would be allowed to "visit" the property, Mr Justice McGovern reiterated that he no longer has "entitlement to reside" in the property.

"You are a trespasser on the property," he added.

Mr Ferriter said the couple "must now leave Gorse Hill".

Mr Justice McGovern also accused Mr O'Donnell of using members of the self-styled New Land League to "frustrate" the bank from seizing control of property.

Last week, Mr Justice McGovern rejected an application by the O'Donnell children for an injunction to prevent Bank of Ireland seizing control of Gorse Hill.

An application was then lodged by the Bank and the receiver for a trespass injunction to be served against Brian and Mary Pat O'Donnell.

Legal papers were delivered to the property that evening.

The former high-profile legal eagle and property developer has since barricaded himself inside the house, once valued at €30m, aided by members of the New Land League anti-repossession movement.

The couple had refused to leave the mansion, despite being instructed by the High Court to do so.

Mr O'Donnell had argued that he has had a right to residence at Gorse Hill in Killiney since 2000, and that the bank was aware of this.

Representatives for the Bank of Ireland argued there was no 'legal basis' for Mr O'Donnell's "walter mitty' claim to be allowed to stay at the mansion.

In a previous sitting, the O’Donnells were described as “deluded” in court after seeking an injunction to prevent Bank of Ireland seizing control of Gorse Hill.`

He the case was a "wholly improper attempt to reopen issues which have been definitely adjudicated upon by this court and, on appeal, by the Supreme Court."

The last-minute High Court bid was mounted by the family to stop the repossession.

The application was made by their eldest son, Blake O'Donnell.

Brian O’Donnell is a former managing partner in Dublin law firm William Fry.

He and his wife, a psychiatrist, became involved in the property business over 20 years ago.

At the height of their global property empire, once valued at almost €1.1billion, the O'Donnells had interests in a number of London properties around the financial hub of Canary Wharf, as well as Stockholm and Washington DC.

However, the financial downturn seriously hit the value of these investments.

Irish Independent