A barrister and his wife deliberately demolished their south Belfast home without the permission of a bank which was owed nearly £800,000, a High Court judge has ruled.
Mr Justice Horner held that Anthony and Grainne Brennan breached their mortgage arrangements by knocking down the property and starting to build two semi-detached houses on the vacant land.
He refused the couple’s bid to overturn an order granting the Bank of Scotland possession of the property at Upper Malone Road.
The judge said: “These appellants had deliberately razed the house to the ground. This was an egregious breach of the terms of the charge.”
Mr and Mrs Brennan borrowed from the bank to buy the property for £800,000 in July 2007 at the height of Northern Ireland’s housing boom. One of the conditions of the loan was that they obtained permission from the bank before making any structural alterations.
But after moving in with their children they allegedly discovered the house was in a much worse state than a surveyor’s report indicated.
Mr Brennan was described in court as a qualified barrister with a responsible position in the Civil Service.
Due to falling into arrears he and his wife were served with notice to quit in April 2010. The bank also commenced moves to seek possession of the property.
The couple had, however, obtained planning permission to knock down the house and build two semi-detached homes in its place.
Sometime in mid 2010 the property was “unilaterally demolished”, the court heard.
By November last year, the amount due to the bank was £797,000.