Lottery winner ordered to repay bank loan
Galway man who won £3.3 million claimed he could only repay €50 a month
Cormac Handy from Clara, Co Offaly, pictured in 2001 at the National Lottery where he collected his winnings £3,320,243. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
A £3.3 million (€4.2 million) lottery winner, who acted as a guarantor for an unpaid loan with Ulster Bank, claimed he could only afford to repay €50 per month, Galway District Court has heard.
In making an instalment order against the defendant, Judge Mary Fahy said Cormac Handy of Rockbarton, Salthill, Galway City, was still enjoying luxuries that many others had been forced to cut out in the current economic climate.
“There might be some of that lottery money hanging around - he can appeal this if he wants,” she said.
Ulster Bank Ireland Ltd, with registered offices at George's Quay, Dublin 2, had sought to have enforced an order made against him in the Circuit Court on August 30th last year.
The Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) lecturer was required to pay back a total sum of €14,371 - which consisted of the debt of €13,507, €624 in costs and expenses, and interest on the lot, at a rate of 8 per cent per annum.
The creditors were seeking payments of €400 per month, but he said he could only afford €50.
Sean Acton, solicitor for Ulster Bank, cross-examined him on the content of a detailed statement of means, handed into the Judge and to the creditor prior to the court date.
Mr Acton asked Handy to explain his household’s average monthly payments of €650 for “food/housekeeping/personal care”; €150 for gas/oil for his 4-bed detached house; €120 for car maintenance/repairs; €42 for UPC broadband; €40 for Sky TV; €90 for two mobile phones; €100 for clothing and footwear; €180 in petrol for two cars; and €100 for ‘lifestyle expenses’ - specifically, family events, Christmas, birthdays, and eating out”.
The solicitor accused Handy of simply not wanting to repay the amount owed to Ulster Bank, to which the debtor replied that it was not his debt, but that he was standing over it.
Finally, after going through each item in the statement, the solicitor asked Handy if it was true that he was a former lottery winner.
The debtor confirmed this, and the court heard that he had won £3.3 million in 2001. When asked to explain where all that money had gone, Handy told the solicitor that €1.5 million was “lost in stocks and shares” and that he had lost more money when the construction business he went into with his brother “crashed”.
He told the court that, up to recently, he had been paying €1,900 interest-only on his mortgage, but that these repayments had now gone up to the full amount of €4,500 per month.
Judge Fahy put it to him: "When you won £3.3m, you didn't think of paying off your mortgage - you could have paid cash.”
Handy replied that he had paid off half his mortgage at the time, and divided some of his winnings among his family.
Looking through his statement of means, Judge Fahy also noted that he was paying €165 per month into a private pension, even though he was in a permanent and pensionable job with GMIT.
She said he had not been alone in signing up for an additional pension during better economic times, but that many of those same people had since been forced to tighten their belts and cut that extra payment from their outgoings.
“You don't know how lucky you are with a permanent pensionable job,” she said. “There is €165 going (available for repayments) - it is a luxury to pay for a private pension.”
Handy's solicitor, Antoinette McMahon, replied that her client had very little money to spare.
“There's nothing there - he’s offering €50 per month… He went as guarantor for a loan,” she said.
However, Judge Fahy did not agree, and told the debtor that she was being “generous” in making an instalment order against him for €250 per month.