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Belfast cancer patient's reckless pursuit of Bucket List leads to his bankruptcy

By Alan Erwin

Published 10/04/2015

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman throw caution, and common sense, to the wind in The Bucket List
Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman throw caution, and common sense, to the wind in The Bucket List

A cancer patient who racked up major credit card debts while blowing the proceeds of his house sale in pursuit of a "bucket list", is to be subject to bankruptcy restrictions for seven years, a High Court judge has ordered.

Master Kelly held that Ian Roderick Gibson had been financially irresponsible before falling ill and then "extravagantly dissipated" £23,000 after his diagnosis.

Mr Gibson was adjudicated bankrupt on his own petition back in 2011 and would have been discharged a year later in normal circumstances.

But the Official Receiver sought a further Bankruptcy Restrictions Order (BRO) against him due to alleged culpable misconduct in his financial affairs.

The court heard that by June 2011 he owed around £77,000 to seven different credit card providers, having transferred card balances from one company to another over several years.

Although he had received more than £23,000 from the sale of his house at Omeath Street in Belfast two years earlier, none of that money went to his creditors.

In his statement of affairs Mr Gibson admitted to debt problems for up to 15 years before his bankruptcy petition.

Asked the reasons for not having the funds to pay what he owed, he referenced Hollywood movie 'The Bucket List' which stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two terminally-ill men going on a road trip to complete unfulfilled wishes.

He said: "I was using one credit card to pay off another for a long time with the debt increasing all the time.

"I'm afraid I felt a bit sorry for myself when I was diagnosed with cancer and I just couldn't get the film 'The Bucket List' out of my mind, so I spent money from the sale of my house rather foolishly, I think.

"I also suffer from depression which I've had for many years. Unfortunately, I had a heart attack last September which has not helped at all. I think I need a new start."

In a newly published judgment, Master Kelly noted how Mr Gibson repeatedly referred to his illness throughout the bankruptcy process.

Elsewhere, he stated how he became very aware of death and felt little financial relief from his dire predicament.

"During this period my spending habits became very irresponsible," he said.

"I became obsessed with the idea of a 'bucket list' and of doing the things I wanted to do before I died, as I believed I was dying. I had no information to the contrary."

A report from his doctor set out that the cancer was diagnosed at an early stage and successfully treated - subject to regular reviews - in 2007.

Finding nothing in the GP's report to account for Mr Gibson's apparent belief about his health and future, Master Kelly held that his illness carried little weight in terms of the conduct under scrutiny.

She pointed out that he had been financially irresponsible prior to his diagnosis.

"More importantly, the extravagant dissipation of the £23,000 began in July 2009, two years after his illness," Master Kelly said.

"In the circumstances, I am satisfied that the imposition of a BRO is merited."

Taking into account an interim period served, the seven-year order will run until June 2019.

Belfast Telegraph

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