Criminal's partner must vacate home, orders court

Fri, Mar 30, 2012, 01:00

THE GIRLFRIEND of a man jailed for drug offences will have to leave a luxury house built for the couple from the proceeds of his criminal activities, following a High Court ruling yesterday.

Avril Boland (29) has lived in the house at Dromahair, Co Leitrim, since about 2008 with Patrick Irwin (30) until he was jailed last year for seven years for having €67,000 worth of cocaine at Boyle, Roscommon, in October 2006.

Ms Boland has until August 15th next to lodge an appeal against the High Court order appointing a receiver over the house, the court heard. A stay on that order has been granted until that date and Ms Boland may stay in the house up to then.

The Criminal Assets Bureau obtained the order allowing it appoint a receiver over the property with a view to selling it with the proceeds to go to the State.

A condition of the order not being enforced before August 15th requires Ms Boland allow prospective purchasers view it and keep it insured and maintained.

The house was built at a total cost of €410,000, including site, furnishings and conveyancing costs, Mr Justice Kevin Feeney said yesterday.

The bulk of this money, including repayments on a €120,000 mortgage taken out by Ms Boland, the registered owner of the house, came from Mr Irwin’s criminal activities, the judge found.

The judge also ordered forfeiture of a €50,000 property bond, now estimated to be worth half that sum, of which Ms Boland was the beneficial owner but which, the court found, was funded by Irwin. The judge said he was satisfied Irwin had disavowed ownership of the bond as “a contrivance” for the benefit of Ms Boland.

Ms Boland should receive €10,000 from the proceeds of the sale of the house to compensate her for any payments she made towards it, he said.

Earlier, he ruled Ms Boland’s evidence about the financing of the property and the bond was contradictory and inconsistent and to a large extent self-serving.

She had a hairdresser’s salary of €300 per week net but lived a lifestyle, including residing in a high-quality house, driving a car and taking foreign holidays which, the court found, was funded by Irwin’s criminal activities.

A mortgage of €120,000 was taken out by her to fund the Dromahair house but, by its completion in 2008, the Criminal Assets Bureau’s experts had established the building costs were €325,000, the judge said.

Added to this was €40,000 for the site, furnishings of €40,000 and conveyancing, making a total €410,000.

It was clear the mortgage, involving monthly payments of €500, was not paid from Ms Boland’s salary and other substantial outgoings were funded not by her but by Irwin, the judge said.

Her bank account was effectively used to launder Irwin’s criminal funds, he found.

Evidence by Ms Boland that money from a €37,000 road incident compensation payment was used towards the building of the house was not accepted because this happened after the house had been completed, he added.