Whither Heather?

By Frank Connolly.

Disgraced former judge, Heather Perrin, may have done her time but some of those whose wills she administered are still awaiting justice. The remaining sibling of Bridget and Frank Murray who lived in Fairview and whose wills were drawn up by Perrin, who unusually had been a solicitor not a barrister, has raised serious questions about the manner in which she dealt with their affairs.

Perrin received a two and half year jail sentence in November 2012 for inducing an elderly client to leave half of his €1 million estate to her two children while he was a client of her solicitors firm in 2009. In 2013, she received a further two years for falsifying the account of an estate with the intention of making a gain.

Following her release from jail in recent weeks, Perrin now faces an allegation by William Murray that she did not properly handle the affairs of his late brother and sister before they died in July 2007 and May 2009, respectively.

Two wills were drafted on their behalf by Perrin in early 2002 and significant monies were left to three charities including the St Vincent De Paul which is now the administrator of Bridget Murray’s estate.

Bridget and Frank Murray lived in a house on Phillipsburg Avenue in Fairview, Dublin, which was sold in 2004. A sum of €377,000 was deposited in the client account of Bridget and Frank Murray by Perrin and is at the heart of the latest allegations of impropriety.

Perrin was also given power of attorney over all of their assets by the siblings in 2003 allowing her to access their bank accounts. Documents seen by Village indicate that she took money from Frank Murray’s account. She claims she paid him back when he was a patient in the Nazareth Nursing Home on the Malahide Road in Donnycarney, and at two other nursing homes from 2004 until he died in 2007.

Perrin produced receipts for the monies totalling €27,000 which she claimed to have given the elderly and ill patient, a claim that is hotly disputed by his surviving relatives.

According to Ben McGarry, the son-in-law of the surviving Murray sibling William, the wills drafted by Perrin raise serious suspicions.

“There are serious inconsistencies and inaccuracies in each of the wills and we are concerned that the assets to be distributed are not going to where Bridget and Frank would have wished. There is also a question surrounding significant monies which Heather Perrin said were paid in cash to Frank when he was in the nursing homes. He was well known for being very frugal with money and he also had no way of spending such amounts”, he said.

In a version of Frank Murray’s will made in 2002 he purports to leave a right to reside in the house on Phillipsburg Avenue to his sister, Bridget. In fact, Frank Murray never owned the house and merely shared it with his sister who owned it then.

Meanwhile, in a will purportedly drafted for Bridget Murray, no property is left to her brother, Frank, even though he was alive and was sharing her home.  If acted upon he would have been homeless in the event that his sister predeceased him. Different versions of the will were later prepared by Perrin. Both signed wills were witnessed by two members of Perrin’s staff, one of whom is Pauline Ball.

Village could not make contact with Ms Ball but she told  the District Court during Perrin’s trial in 2012 that she had signed documents including wills at the request of her employer.

Following the discovery of irregularities in her various client accounts after her practice was taken over by O’Hanrahan Quaney Solicitors, William Murray was alerted by the Garda Fraud Squad to inconsistencies in the wills drafted for his late siblings. He found discrepancies in the signatures of his late brother and sister and other inconsistencies.

In particular, he discovered that Bridget’s will was prepared ten days before she was admitted to St Vincent’s psychiatric hospital in Fairview in January 2002 suggesting that she was not in the full of her mental health at the time. He was also surprised that the wills left significant sums to St Vincent De Paul and three other charities rather than another charity with which his siblings had an association.

While the Garda Fraud Squad was investigating the authenticity of the Murray wills the distribution of assets to the named beneficiaries was delayed.

As a beneficiary and also administrator on behalf of the other charities St Vincent de Paul is in a difficult dillema as to how the proceeds of the wills should be distributed given the genuine concerns of William Murray.

A spokesperson for St Vincent de Paul said that it may be a matter to be resolved through discussions between its solicitors and O’Hanrahan Quaney, which took over Perrin’s practice, and with Michael E Hanahoe Solicitors acting for William Murray.

“I believe that St Vincent de Paul would look favourably at any request from solicitors acting for the Murray family to meet and discuss these issues”, he told Village. The fraud squad is also probing whether she misappropriated €40,000 in a separate property deal for the Church of Ireland.

Given that there may be questions surrounding other wills drafted by Heather Perrin it is likely that the devastating trail of destruction she has left behind her will continue long after she has retired into the legal sunset. •