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Solicitor fails in attempt to have ‘commitment gifts’ returned

A DUBLIN solicitor has told the Circuit Civil Court that he bought expensive jewellery and an oil painting as “commitment gifts” to his former partner but expected to get them back.

His former girlfriend, a legal assistant, won a court order to hold on to them and was awarded legal costs against her former lover.

Conor Bowman told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that Matthew Wales had bought Stella Conlon a diamond ring worth €12,000, a Rolex watch worth €5,000 and a Norman Teeling painting worth €5,500.

Mr Wales, Roebuck Castle, Clonskeagh, Dublin, told Mr Bowman, for Ms Conlon, that he had bought the ring in the company of Ms Conlon and had told her it was a commitment gift given as “a token of an exclusive relationship”.

Judge Linnane heard that the Rolex watch had been given as a Christmas gift. Mr Wales said other items he had bought had less value and he was not interested in getting them back.

Ms Conlon, Temple Hall, Mount Saint Anne’s, Milltown, Dublin, said she had become aware that Mr Wales wanted the three items returned two years after their relationship ended in 2009.

She told the court that she and Mr Wales had been in a mutual relationship from 2006 and she never expected she would have to give the gifts back.

She said she understood the ring had been given as “a sign of love”.

She said Mr Wales was a generous man and she would not have accepted the gifts if she had expected the relationship would eventually end.

The court heard they had been together when Mr Wales bought the Molly Malone painting by Teeling. Ms Conlon denied that she had known that he had hung it in her apartment temporarily. She said her friends were aware it was a gift from him.

Mr Bowman said that when the relationship ended, Mr Wales had returned to Ms Conlon’s apartment in her absence, using a key he had, to collect his belongings. He said Mr Wales did not take the painting, which was on the wall.

Judge Linnane, dismissing Mr Wales’s claim, said Ms Conlon was entitled to retain the gifts as they had been given to her unconditionally.

Irish Times | Fri, May 04, 2012 | Link to Irish Times Article