A taxi driver who claimed he had been paid more than €40,000 in taxi fares by an 85-year-old pensioner has told a judge the money had instead been used by him to buy the octogenarian lunches and afternoon teas.
Judge John O’Connor, who has been asked to settle a dispute over a home-made will by Joseph Kavanagh, of Swords Street, Oxmanstown Road, Stoneybatter, Dublin, in which he allegedly left his €275,000 home to taxi driver Seamus Conroy, has suggested “some sense” should be applied to the proceedings.
The Circuit Civil Court heard that Conroy, of Beatty Grove, Celbridge, Co Kildare, had driven Mr Kavanagh to and from St Mary’s Care Hospital in the Phoenix Park to visit his wife daily until her death several years ago and for which total charges topped €40,000 at a rate of €210 a week for 192 weeks.
Barrister Rory de Bruir told Judge O’Connor the only reason Conroy would have switched his charges from taxi fares to payments for afternoon teas would have been due to potential income tax commitments. Mr Conroy has denied having wrongly influenced Mr Kavanagh in any way in the changing of his will.
Cormac O’Ceallaigh Solicitors, who dealt with a first will drawn up on behalf of Kavanagh, told the court he had bequeathed 60 per cent of his net estate to charities and divided the remainder between two nieces.
He had left money for the upkeep of priests and church buildings, parish funds, the Legion of Mary Concillium and St Peter’s Church, Phibsborough, Dublin.
Mr O’Ceallaigh said that when Kavanagh’s €275,000 home had been put on the market a purchaser paid a deposit of €7,000 on the deal. In November 2019 Swaine Solicitors, Galway, had on behalf of Mr Conroy, written indicating they were in possession of a final will appointing Mr Conroy as Executor and that no further steps be taken in connection with the sale.
Proceedings relating to the dispute had continued through the Circuit and High Courts since last year with allegations from both sides being levelled one against the other.
'Very sad and serious case'
Judge O’Connor described the proceedings as a very sad and serious case in which Mr Conroy had produced a home-made will claiming he was entitled to the property.
“There is an allegation he took some €40,000 or thereabouts for taxi fares. It seems extraordinary and almost incomprehensible that over three to four years an elderly man would pay nothing for taxis but would pay €40,000 for meals,” Judge O’Connor said.
“This has ended in a straightforward clash between Mr Conroy and Mr O’Ceallaigh, a case in which charities lose out,” he said.
Judge O’Connor said Mr Swaine had given an undertaking to the court and there could be nothing more serious than a solicitor’s undertaking, the consequences of a breach of which would constitute misconduct with very serious results.
“It is not the function of this court to enter into an investigation of professional relationships and the court notices that the matter has been referred to the legal regulatory authorities and is the subject of a garda investigation,” Judge O’Connor said.
He said allegations regarding Revenue Commissioners issues were outside his remit, but he hoped to see some sense in the case going forward, and he was confident this could be achieved.
Judge O’Connor told Mr Eanna Mulloy SC, who appeared with Mr Tim Dixon for Mr Conroy, that an affidavit detailing bank transactions should be provided to the court within the next two weeks.