Cou­ple in bid to re­cover sav­ings they lent rel­a­tive to open eaterie

South Wales Echo - - NEWS -

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.”

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