Judge tells husband and wife they own camper-van

Stephen and Margaret Murtagh at court yesterday. photograph: . Collins

Stephen and Margaret Murtagh at court yesterday. photograph: . Collins

Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 00:00

A husband and wife who feared their dream camper-van might be taken from them have been told by a judge it is legally their property and cannot be touched by a bank.

Stephen (43) and Margaret Murtagh (45), of Woodford Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin, will not have to hand over the Ford Transit-based camper which they bought for €31,600 in April 2008. Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke told Friends First Finance Ltd it could not seize the vehicle from them.

The couple, who have children aged 10 and 13, remortgaged their home to pay for the camper-van. Mr Murtagh said the last year and a half had been “pure stress”.

John Morrissey, counsel for the Murtaghs, told the Circuit Civil Court the couple had bought it from a Barry Callaghan who operated a vehicle recovery and sales unit in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

It had transpired that Mr Callaghan had bought the Ford Transit Chausson Welcome 28 in a hire purchase agreement with Friends First Finance in 2007 and still owed more than €30,000 on it when he sold it to Mr Murtagh in April 2008.

Honest man

Judge Groarke said Mr Murtagh was an entirely honest man and trusted Mr Callaghan. He had made a €30,000-plus investment that he would be paying back until 2037, and had been assured there were no problems of outstanding finance or ownership. He said the bank, because of an error, had delayed by two years in registering the hire purchase agreement on any car-check website so even if Mr Murtagh had carried out an inquiry he would not have discovered anything untoward.

Mr Murtagh said of Friends First: “Theyre no friends of mine, put it that way.”