Businesswoman jailed for contempt

Wendy Whitty not complying with undertakings over residential properties

The High Court has ordered that a businesswoman be jailed for contempt

The High Court has ordered that a businesswoman be jailed for contempt

 

The High Court has ordered that a businesswoman be jailed for contempt for not complying with her undertakings not to interfere with the receivership of several residential investment properties owned by herself and her husband.

Wendy Whitty and her husband Scott Dyer had not complied with injunctions preventing interference with properties in Wexford and Cork, including by continuing to collect rent from tenants, the court was told.

Ms Whitty, a mother of four, was not in court and not represented when Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds made the order committing her to Mountjoy Prison until she is prepared to purge her contempt.

Last month, Ms Whitty, with an address at Kilbrainey, Gusserane, New Ross, Co Wexford, gave undertakings to the court not to impede the bank-appointed receivers in collecting rents from the properties She also undertook not to hold herself out as entitled to get rents from tenants or to communicate with tenants or enter the various properties.

Too ill

Similar proceedings were brought against Mr Dyer. After a letter from his doctor stated he was too ill to attend court, Ms Justice Reynolds last month directed the doctor to furnish details about Mr Dyer’s health, including the exact nature of his illness or when he can attend court.

Three of the eight properties are at Sunset Avenue, Riverchapel, Co Wexford, and the other five are in Cork. They are located at Beales Hill and Nelson’s Terrace, Lower Glanmire Road; Wrixons Lane, St Mary’s Road Cork and Myrtlehill Terrace, Glanmire.

Injunctions were secured against the couple in 2017 over alleged ongoing interference with the properties. The initial proceedings were prompted after a Polish family living in one of the Cork properties, who had co-operated with the receivership, were evicted by Mr Dyer and two male associates in November 2016.

Ms Whitty and Ms Dyer had obtained mortgages in respect of the properties from AIB and it appointed Siobháin O’Dwyer as receiver over the properties in 2015 after the couple failed to pay a demand for €747,000.

The couple have disputed the validity of the receiver’s appointment. The receiver, after being unable to get rent from the tenants in the properties, brought proceedings seeking to have the couple and the tenants come before the court to answer their contempt.

At the High Court on Wednesday, Brian Conroy, for the receiver, said Ms Whitty had, in a letter to the court and others, resiled from her previous undertakings not to interfere with the receivership.

Under duress

Ms Whitty stated in her letter the undertakings were given under duress, challenged the court’s jurisdiction and alleged she was intimidated and humiliated. Counsel said his client was also not satisfied with a letter from Mr Dyer’s doctor stating he was suffering from an unspecified serious illness and could not attend court.

The receiver was satisfied people living at three properties at Sunset Avenue had been told by the couple not to co-operate with the receiver but those had now agreed to co-operate, counsel said. One of the tenants, Michael Clarke, told Ms Justice Reynolds the defendants had told them the receivership was “fraudulent” and not to pay rent to the receiver.

His family were warned they would be removed from the house unless they complied with the defendants’ instructions, he said.

Ms Justice Reynolds ordered Ms Whitty be committed to prison, saying she had “clearly resiled” from undertakings previously given to the court.

She also directed Mr Dyer’s doctor provide a more detailed report about his medical condition. She was also satisfied that Feileacain Finance and Property, a company registered in Dominica in the the Caribbean, which purportedly bought the three houses at Sunset Avenue, was a “front” for the couple and used to collect rent from the tenants there.

The judge expressed her concern about the defendants’ attitude towards the tenants and said the matter should be referred to An Garda Síochána for investigation. If the defendants or any of their agents attend at the Wexford properties, gardaí should be called immediately, she said.

The residents of the Cork properties should also be brought before the court to address their alleged contempt, she said. The matter was adjourned to next week.