Artist’s husband denies affair with cleaner in €28,500 art-theft trial

Pictures by Louise Mansfield found in Roza Komorova’s van as she drove from house

Roza Komorova: she has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to theft of the paintings from Louise Mansfield’s home in Cabinteely in 2011. Photograph: Collins Courts

Roza Komorova: she has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to theft of the paintings from Louise Mansfield’s home in Cabinteely in 2011. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

The husband of a Dublin artist has denied having an affair with a cleaner accused of stealing paintings worth €28,595 from his wife.

Roza Komorova (46), from Brehon Grove, Ballinteer, Co Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to theft of the paintings from Louise Mansfield’s home on Brennanstown Road, Cabinteely, on September 5th, 2011.

Ms Mansfield’s husband, Theo Hanley, said he had never been unfaithful in the 38 years of their marriage.

“Certainly if I was to be unfaithful it wouldn’t be with Ms Komorova,” Mr Hanley told John Berry defending.

He said his friends in the pub had started “razzing” him about coverage of the case. “It didn’t go down very well. You’re scraping the bottom of the barrel,” he said.

Mr Hanley said he first heard of the allegation about an affair on Monday after his wife gave evidence in the case. Mr Berry put it to Ms Mansfield on Monday that her husband had an affair with Ms Komorova between 2003 and 2011.

In his response Ms Mansfield said the suggestion was “absolutely ludicrous”.

Mr Hanley said yesterday that Ms Komorova worked for around 10 years for €10 an hour until her arrest. He said his wife dealt with the payment.

Mr Hanley denied giving Ms Komorova two cars as gifts. He said he still owns one and she paid him €200 for the other.

He also denied paying money into her credit-card account. He said he knew she was getting statements sent to their home because she moved house a lot.

He denied meeting Ms Komorova in Foxrock in spring 2013, two years after her arrest, to apologise about the prosecution. He described it as “Walter Mitty affair stuff” and said he had no contact with Ms Komorova.

After he gave his evidence, Mr Hanley addressed the court to say: “I’m a retired dentist. This accusation of being a dirty old man would have damaged my practice.”

Ms Komorova, a Ukrainian national, who gave evidence through an interpreter, said she returned one of the cars because she didn’t want it. She said Mr Hanley gave her gifts and money for her credit card because they were “very, very good friends”.

When asked by Mr Berry to be more explicit and elaborate for the jury, she said: “Sometimes we were sleeping together. We had a relationship.”

She said she didn’t mention it during interviews because she didn’t want people to find out.

Earlier, the lead investigator in the case, Det Sgt Michael Grogan, told the court that on the morning of the alleged theft, following a tip-off from Ms Mansfield, gardaí­ stopped and searched Ms Komorova’s van after it left the house.

He said they found 21 paintings signed “Louise Mansfield” stacked sideways in the back of the vehicle. Ms Komorova said they belonged to her.

Ms Komorova said in court on Friday she told gardaí­ the paintings were hers because she didn’t understand the phrasing of the question. She said she told gardaí­ she was going to hang them on a wall because she thought the question was about what people do with paintings.

Under cross examination from Elva Duffy, prosecuting, Ms Komorova was asked why she never told gardaí­ that Ms Mansfield had told her to move the paintings.

Ms Komorova said she thought at the beginning of the interviews that she had enough English to answer. When Ms Duffy put it to her that in the second interview she denied even putting the paintings into the van, Ms Komorova said that proved she hadn’t understood the questions.

The prosecution and defence have closed their cases and the trial will continue on Monday before Judge Mary Ellen Ring and a jury.