STATEMENT OF: EILEEN WRIGHT
AGE OF WITNESS (if over 21 enter "over 21") OVER 21
OCCUPATION OF WITNESS: FASHION RETAILER
ADDRESS: 9 SILVERBIRCH CRESCENT, BANGOR
I declare that this statement consisting of 7 pages, each signed by me is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence at a preliminary enquiry or at the trial of any person, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated in it anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true.
Dated this 26th day of April 1982.
SIGNATURE of MEMBER by whom
statement was recorded or received.
SIGNATURE of WITNESS.
Prior to my marriage in 1945 I lived in the family home at Tara, 14 Castlehill Road, Belfast. I lived there with my parents, two sisters and 2 brothers. One of my brothers, Freddie was attending Campbell College when I noticed a deterioration in his mental capacity. Prior to this he had been a keen pianist and cricketer. It was in his late teens when I noticed the change in his health and then realised my father was taking him round various doctors. Freddie then attended different hospitals in Scotland and South of Ireland and here and as time passed it became obvious he was becoming unable to manage his affairs. There was a time when he had to have an operation or the alternative was to remain in hospital for the remainder of his life. After the operation Freddie became unable to participate in any of his interests such as the piano or cricket. His mental capacity was not discussed in a manner which it would in present days. My father was always very protective of Freddie's illness and never spoke openly of it. It appeared he did not wish to recognise the incapacity. My father often speculated in property and as children we were often taken to view the properties. I was not told directly that some of the properties were bought in the names of the family but it was general knowledge within the family that Freddie because of his incapacity was being provided for. My father often made remarks which indicated this. At the time of my fathers death in 1972 I did not know the total of Freddies assets but I was aware he owned the family home and contents at Castlehill Road.
The contents consisted of very good quality furnishings many of great antique value. Some of the outstanding items were paintings by Frank McKelvey, figures in ivory, large items of silver, a large oil painting from a French exhibition, ivory tusks, a number of pergolas, ornate clocks, some in glass cases, large inlaid bedroom suite, a specially constructed dining room suite with a table which seated 12 or more with matching serving table and coal scuttles and numerous other valuable and beautiful items. Towards the end of 1975 my mother showed me a house in Norwood Gardens which she informed me was to be her new home. This was the first I knew of Tara being sold, the reasons possibly could be put down to the fact that relations between my mother and I were somewhat strained. This occurred even though I was a frequent visitor to the home and assisted with Freddie. I understood Tara had been sold and everything was above board. Billy and I got together and discussed the problem of them moving and the state of the new house. The house was very inferior to the family home and not what Freddie was used to. I was astonished with the sale as my father often conveyed to us that no one could sell Freddies properties. One day my mother went into the hospital without warning to the family and Freddie was taken to Purdysburn hospital. If I had been informed of my mothers hospitalisation I would have arranged for the family to care for Freddie. He was in hospital for a number of weeks and Billy and I frequently visited him. i was concerned about Freddie's property and Billy and I discussed the necessity to have him made a ward of court. His collective assets was believed to be in the region of £200,000. I was very concerned about his house having been sold and I was unaware of what other property had been sold without any knowledge. Billy and I went to see Dr Lyons who was the consultant in charge of Freddie and informed him of the concern. Lyons agreed it was necessary to seek the protection of the courts and assured me the appropriate department would be informed immediately. The next I heard of the action was when I received a letter from Mr Drennan informing me he had been appointed as committee.
I now produce the letter marked EW1. I do not understand why Billy or I was not approached to act as committee. The letter also requested me to attend a meeting with Mr Drennan at his office. I went to Mr Drennan's office on 7/2/79 as requested. I was met by a Mr Doherty who introduced himself and Mr Drennan. I was sat at the opposite side of a desk from Mr Doherty and Mr Drennan sat to one side of the room. The meeting was like an interrogation with Doherty dominating it. Mr Drennan took no active part. Mr Doherty was aggressive and I thought this would be the best for Freddie and felt a man like this would get to the bottom of matters. He enquired about Freddies general affairs and I expressed my concern about Freddies property and money. I am aware my brother Billy and sister Betty also attended similar meetings. I wrote on an average of once a fortnight the official solicitor and frequently telephoned his office about various matters which I assumed would be of assistance to him. I assisted and co-operated in every way I thought possible. I have retained only copies of a few of these letters. I was never able to speak on the telephone to Mr Drennan, Mr Doherty always took the calls. In the early part of the two years I corresponded with them they acknowledged some of my letters but seldom received acknowledgement of my letters. In April 1979 I recall being with my mother when she mentioned she had been visited by Mr Doherty and Mr Wright. She seemed very distressed over the meeting and disturbed about Doherty's behaviour towards her. A nurse and housekeeper was employed to look after Freddie soon after the committee had been formed. In knew her as Mrs McClelland she cleaned the house, done the shopping and assisted with the meals. My mother was elderly and a little difficult to work with. I knew Mrs mcClelland was necessary and encouraged her to ignore my mothers interference and continue with her duties as she thought best. I had problems with my own family at the time and could not devote as much time to Freddie as I would have liked to. During the time she worked for Freddie she had a daughter committed suicide and from then on her services deteriorated. She began to neglect Freddie and my mother was unable to manage on her own. Mrs McClelland started taking days off sometimes without informing anyone. She went to Scotland for some weeks.
I informed Mrs Morseiwitsch who was secretary to Dr Lyons of the problems with her absenteeism and the differences between Mrs McClelland and my mother. Shortly after this Mrs McClelland left and a second nurse was engaged a Mrs Geddis from Cabinhill. She appeared to get on well with my mother. She had a child boarding at Campbell College, a boy at another school and had an adopted child. As time progressed she took Freddie out a lot and sometimes she would take him along to her own house. All along I was continually writing to Mr Drennan's office phoning Mr Doherty and sometimes Mrs Moiseiwitsch. I never spoke to Mr Drennan. My mother had a stroke and was taken to hospital and on my arrival the next morning I learned that Mrs Geddis and her son who had been specially released from college had spent the night at the request of Mr Doherty. She appeared very upset as a result of what Mr Doherty had told her. Billy stayed with Freddie for a week and then I stayed for a week and after that the various members of the family took turns to look after him. Although Mrs Geddis was looking after Freddie and appeared to be acceptable to my mother I was very uncertain about her own mental stability. One example of her capabilities was the purchase of groceries. I on occasion listed the items which I considered was required and when Mrs Geddis returned she had everything but what she was asked for. There was never enough food in the house to make a decent meal. I felt this woman was in need of care and protection herself and informed the Mental Health Department of my opinion and that I considered her no longer suitable. Mrs Geddis's services were terminated and no other nurse has been engaged since. Freddie attends a day centre Monday to Friday which makes it a simple task to look after him. My mother was in hospital on this occasion for a lengthy period. I now produce a number of letters marked EW2. These letters are acknowledging ones I wrote to the Offices of the General Solicitor now known as the Offices of the Official Solicitor. On or about the 14/10/80 I received a letter which I now produce a photocopy of marked EW3. The letter is signed John G Drennan. In the third paragraph there is a statement that the author Mr Drennan has spoken to me on several occasions and that I had never requested an interview.
This is totally false as I had never spoken to Mr Drennan and had on different occasions suggested Billy and I were desirous of a meeting to discuss Freddie's welfare. The fourth paragraph is also false in so much as I was only once at their offices. I was continually forwarding information to Mr Drennans office and asking them to explain what had happened to Freddies property but there was no feed-back. I was beginning to doubt and frustrated at their apparent inactivity. I was beginning to question in my mind their apparent reluctance and whether or not they were working in my brother's interests. On receipt of the letter previously referred to I was shocked at the false allegations contained in it and from then on I was very sceptical of anything they said. I immediately contacted Mr Drennan and aquainted him of the irregularities and followed this up with a letter. I recall Mr Doherty informing me of matters on different occasions which led me to believe a full report of his findings had been forwarded to the Lord Chief Justice, that Mr Wright was being brought before the Lord Chief, that Mr Gilpin was to be interviewed by him and many other matters which I now understand is incorrect. Mr Drennan wrote to me offering an appointment with him. The letter was received the morning of the appointment and I therefore could not attend. I had a letter declining the appointment delivered by hand to his office. Another meeting was arranged for 27/1/81 but by then I was of the opinion such a meeting would not be in the interests of Freddie or the family and informed them accordingly. A copy of the letter I now produce marked EW4. By this time I was so disillusioned by the actions of these solicitors I dealt direct with the Department of Care and Protection which was then the Mental Health Department. Mr Davis of that Department then organised a meeting at his office when Mr Doherty was to attend. Billy and I went to this meeting and waited for over an hour before Mr Davis informed us Mr Doherty would not be attending the meeting. We immediately went to Freddies home at Norwood and on arrival found Mr Doherty sitting in one of the arm chairs making phone calls. The calls appeared to be about an accident his wife had in the car he was driving. He arranged for someone to come and examine the car and we all waited until after this man arrived and examined the car. We learned that Doherty was there as a result of my mother having been taken to Dundonald Hospital with a stroke and he was there to organise for Freddie to be taken to a home and have the house locked up. We were able to keep the house open because of our presence. Billy and I made Freddie a Ward of Court to protect his assets and affairs. For over 3 years I have been corresponding by letter and telephone with the official solicitors office so that I can understand Freddie's position but with negative result.
Mr Doherty has led me to understand Freddies affairs are none of my business once his office was appointed as committee. My father left Freddie with more than sufficient to provide and keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. He used to say to the family that he may have left him too much but he wanted him to be financially independent from the rest of the family and also in a way that no mal-practice could take place in the administration of is affairs. He left Freddie the family home to make sure he was kept in the style he was used to and intimated that no one even himself could sell the house. I cannot understand how his affairs were removed from the family solicitor and placed with Tughan & Company. No person or company can have good title to any properties misappropriated from Freddie and all properties must be returned to him. No solicitor had any right to accept Freddies signature due to his incapacity. I would like to point out Freddie always signed his name as Freddie and never Frederick. Also it is difficult to understand how banks could open accounts and deal with his affairs. The Official Solicitors offices through the various dealings I had with them have taken a very unreal attitude and appears to be acting in the interests of those who have misappropriated Freddies assets rather than in the interests of the patient. I do not accept that Freddie's affairs are not the business and concern of the family as Mr Doherty has indicated and until there is an open discussion about his affairs I can only assume his office is endeavouring to cover up the irregularities and mal-pracitces of those who have misappropriated or assisted in the misappropriation of his property. Property in the care of the Ulster bank Trust at the time of my fathers death has also been sold. Our family had a happy and friendly relationship with the family solicitor Miss Sullivan. I have never understood why she relinquished or how she was induced into relinquishing her responsibilities in carrying out my fathers wishes on behalf of his son. If she had been left to carry out my fathers wishes I am sure he would still have his home and property. My mother was too old and unfamiliar with business life and unfortunately could have been easily manipulated. This is one reason why Freddies affairs were settled outside my fathers will.
Each of these seven pages bear Eileen Wright's signature.