Woman loses action against sisters over sale of parents’ home

Plaintiff’s evidence ‘frequently unreliable’ and ‘deluded in many respects’, judge finds

A woman has lost a High Court action alleging her family obtained €2.5 million to €2.9 million less from the sale of their parents' home than they could have.

Aideen Doyle, otherwise Clodagh White, sued two of her sisters over the sale of "Chimes", Mount Anville Road, Goatstown, Dublin, for €16.1 million.

There were seven children in the White family, including retired High Court judge Barry White. He gave evidence in the case.

The plaintiff had given evidence "frequently unreliable" and "unfortunately deluded in many respects", Mr Justice Richard Humphreys said. "Regrettably, I am satisfied that her lengthy history of launching allegations is the work of a fantasist."

She had sued Niamh and Derval White, as administrators of their mother’s estate, claiming €350,000 as her share of the extra sum she alleged could have been achieved from sale of “Chimes” in 2007.

The court heard negotiations had been taking place with developer Niall Mellon, but that deal did not go through and it was sold by tender. Mr Mellon subsequently bought it from the successful tenderer.

The plaintiff claimed the administrators breached their duty to get the best price, which reached €19 million at one stage in a private offer from Mr Mellon.

Mr Justice Humphreys ruled there was no breach of duty as administrators and found evidence from Barry and Niamh White to be honest and reliable, while the plaintiff's evidence was "evasive and misleading".

‘Scandalous allegations’

Her claims the administrators had a duty to consult her did not arise and, even if it did, her “history of scandalous allegations against family members meant that any failure to consult her in such circumstances was reasonable”.

Those allegations included the "clearly delusional belief" that she was not the biological daughter of Kevin and Emily White, who had seven children. As a result she appeared to have adopted the alias Aideen Doyle, he said.

The plaintiff previously had treatment that involved removal of a portion of her brain in the frontal lobe, the judge noted. At some point, she developed the belief she was not the biological daughter of the Whites, based on “alleged conversations with shadowy advisers”.

She wrote to the Minister for Justice, a letter copied to the Cabinet, complaining about her brother Barry, a serving judge at the time. She also wrote a work of fiction, Web of Deceit, with characters bearing some resemblance to her siblings and in which scandalous allegations of fraud were imputed to those characters. A web blog by her propagated further scandalous allegations.

She brought a private prosecution against her sister Hilary, who had tried to help her in a number of ways, after Hilary turned up at the plaintiff’s home accompanied by a doctor.

DNA test

In 2006, the plaintiff was admitted to St John of God’s for seven weeks, during which time a DNA test confirmed she was a full biological sibling of Hilary. The plaintiff said she had advice from a lecturer, described by the judge as another “shadowy adviser”, that the test was not proof.

She stopped paying rent, was evicted in January 2007, and lived in B&Bs and youth hostels for a time.

When the sale of “Chimes” was being negotiated that March, she could not be contacted until about a week before the deal was agreed by the rest of the family and began then to threaten legal proceedings.

She made distasteful and repugnant references to her family, such as “those people”. An essential element of her case for alleged breach of duty was that she had to be a member of the family and this was not something she could equivocate on or deny.

Were it not for the fact her sisters did not appear to wish to take this particular point against her, he would have dismissed her action on that ground alone, he said.