Nama developer bankrupts café owner over £10,000 debt
Gerry Gannon took a creditor’s petition following the closure of Cuppa-licious in West Sussex village
Property developer Gerry Gannon had hundreds of millions worth of debts taken over by the National Asset Management Agency.
Property developer Gerry Gannon whose hundreds of millions worth of debts were taken over by the National Asset Management Agency, has bankrupted a Sussex café-owner over the non-payment of less than £10,000 (€11,800) in rent.
Mr Gannon took a creditor’s petition against Sean O’Riordan, from Bolnore, Haywards Heath in West Sussex, following the closure in May of the Cuppa-licious café in the village, which Mr O’Riordan had run with his partner.
The creditor’s petition, giving Mr Gannon’s address as Northumberland Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, was filed in Brighton County Court on July 24th and the bankruptcy order against Mr O’Riordan was made on October 2nd.
“I have lost everything,” Mr O’Riordan, who has now taken up a job working in a pet shop, told The Irish Times.
Seven hundred people living in or near the Sussex village signed a petition urging Gannon Properties to cut the café’s rent, which the couple set up in 2010 alongside a Co-operative store, and a Lloyds pharmacy.
“Things were okay at the beginning. It was great for us because we lived in the village,” said Mr O’Riordan, who said he began to fall behind with the rent six months into the lease after the chemist closed.
Fall in shoppers
He said they began to pay £875 per month in rent to Gannon Properties, rather than the £1,400 due because the number of shoppers on the street fell off dramatically once the chemist shop closed.
However, his offer to pay a reduced, but rising rent was refused. Eventually, he was offered a new rental agreement, with a 10-year break clause.
The Irish Times requested comment from Mr Gannon’s London-based lawyer, Joe Payne of Katten Law, which prompted a reply from a London-based property firm, Development Securities. “Unfortunately we aren’t able to comment on any details beyond what is in the public court records,” said a spokeswoman.
The chairman of Bolnore Village Residents’ Association, Carlos Leon, told the local newspaper, the Mid Sussex Times that the closure of Cuppa-licious had been “terrible news” for the village’s 2,000 residents. “They closed us in May. We came in one morning and the locks were on and the bailiffs were there,” Mr O’Riordan told The Irish Times.
By the end, Mr O’Riordan owed Gannon Properties approximately £9,000, but this figure grew to £12,000 once legal fees and other charges over Mr Gannon’s creditor’s bankruptcy petition were added.
The decision to seek his bankruptcy, he said, came as a surprise: “I told them that I didn’t have any other assets, that I wasn’t hiding anything. I asked the solicitor, ‘Why are you doing this?’ It has been horrendous.”
Under British rules, Mr O’Riordan’s affairs will be dealt with by an official receiver in Brighton for 12 months. His bankruptcy will be discharged in October 2014, if a court accepts that he has co-operated and has no hidden assets.
“We put £100,000 into the business, we never took a penny out of it. I was trying to sell it as a going concern. Not easy, admittedly,” said Mr O’Riordan.