Man who breached divorce settlement receives suspended jail sentence

The case was heard at the High Court
The case was heard at the High Court

A Northern Ireland publican who behaved “inexcusably badly” towards his ex-wife by not paying a £105,000 divorce settlement has been handed a six-week suspended jail sentence.

High Court judge Mr Justice O’Hara ruled that Richard Alexander Whiteside deliberately breached an agreement on dividing up the matrimonial assets and lied about his income.

His actions were also held to have resulted in ex-wife Gladys Whiteside and their two children losing their new home.

Suspending the jail term for three months, the judge said: “It is long past time that he stopped avoiding (his) obligations.”

Mrs Whiteside issued proceedings to have her ex-husband committed to prison for allegedly defaulting on an agreement reached in June 2010.

She had received £65,000 after transferring the former matrimonial home, in an undisclosed town, into his sole name.

Mr Whiteside was to pay her a further £105,000 after selling either that house or a pub which they jointly owned.

With neither property sold, the lump sum settlement remains outstanding.

Unpaid monthly spousal maintenance has also reached nearly £11,000, the court heard.

Mrs Whiteside claimed she lost the home bought after the separation because of the non-payments.

She alleged her ex-husband was hiding cash-takings from the pub and has no intention of selling the former matrimonial house.

Based on evidence from both sides, Mr Justice O’Hara held that Mr Whiteside has done little or nothing to try to sell either property.

“As a result he has caused his ex-wife and their children to lose their home while he has continued to occupy the former family home and run a business,” he said.

In his newly published judgment, Mr Justice O’Hara found Mr Whiteside deliberately in breach of the settlement, he imposed the sentence of six weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for three months.

The obligation to pay the £105,000 lump sum and any outstanding spousal maintenance remains.