Couple in bid to recover savings they lent relative to open eaterie
AN ELDERLY couple have gone to court to try to recover £100,000 from their retirement savings which they lent a family member money to open a restaurant.
John and Sandra Woodrow, from Aberdare, say they lent Simon Kealy tens of thousands of pounds to finance Italian restaurant venture Sale Pepe in St David’s shopping centre, Cardiff, in 2009.
But following a period of financial difficulty where they claim they made several further loans to Mr Kealy, the restaurant closed about five years ago.
In 2014, John, 75, and Sandra, 70, won a county court judgement saying Mr Kealy owed them £97,263.92 – but they say they haven’t been able to recover a penny of that amount.
In the same year, Mr Kealy was banned from being a company director for six years for continuing to trade at another venue, The Old Post Office in St Fagans, Cardiff, while the business was insolvent.
Grandmother of five Sandra, who is a first cousin of Mr Kealy’s mother, said she and her husband initially lent £35,000 to help furnish Sale Pepe on the understanding it would be repaid in two to four years.
Sandra claims they made further payments of £3,200.69 and £39.691.11 on Mr Kealy’s behalf to financiers Armada Finance Plc following difficulties with repayments.
They say another loan of £3,276 was made in December 2011 to redeem furniture and equipment from bailiffs that had been taken in the execution of another judgement.
John and Sandra claim it was their understanding that Simon would repay their money in full. But while two repayments of £2,500 were made in 2011 and another of £300 in 2012, they say they received no further correspondence from Simon.
They took their claim to Cardiff County Court, and in September 2014 won a county court judgement against Mr Kealy for £97,263.92 taking into account legal costs and interest.
In the intervening years the couple say they have incurred further costs of several thousand pounds in attempting to recover the full amount.
Former factory worker John said the money they loaned Mr Kealy was a combination of retirement lump sums, inheritance and savings.
“You can imagine; it’s been worry, worry, worry,” he said. “We have three children and five grandchildren and we helped him before we helped our own. We had planned for our retirement and our retirement has gone. We wanted to move from here and we wanted to enjoy ourselves.”
In response, Mr Kealy said Sandra Woodrow was made a company director prior to the couple’s initial investment. He says he was therefore not liable to pay back any money invested into the business by another company director.
Mr Kealy said he did not attend the county court hearings at which the judgement was made because he had left the UK and was unable to travel back.
He said: “Any payments made to them was repaid as a directors loan and at no point was I personally liable for any money put into the company by them.
“I am sorry the venture didn’t work,” he added. “I gave them a signed document stating all risks, it also mentioned they may lose all investments but I would try my best to not let that happen.”