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'Sad' dispute between Tyrone pensioner and his daughter settled in court

By Alan Erwin

An 85-year-old man said to have shunned nearly his entire family has lost a legal battle with his daughter over the ownership of his home.

Although Co Tyrone father-of-nine Bernard Rouse can still live rent-free for the rest of his life at the house on Waterside Street in Strabane, a High Court judge has ruled that he holds the property on trust for Dawn Rouse.

In a legal case he described as "sad", Mr Justice Horner also urged the father and daughter to resolve any outstanding differences "in the interests of family harmony".

Ms Rouse (38) took action over an agreement in 2004 to help her father buy his Housing Executive home for a heavily discounted price of £18,450.

She was to be responsible for all mortgage repayments while Mr Rouse continued to reside there for as long as he wanted.

A declaration of trust was subsequently drawn up between the pair as part of the arrangement.

But they were said to have fallen out in 2007 after Mr Rouse used backdated pension credit to pay off the mortgage.

The court heard about an exchange in the kitchen of the house where the pensioner told his daughter he no longer required her help and that their arrangement was over.

Mr Rouse claimed she had broken her word on an agreement to live with him and maintain the property when she moved out in late 2005.

Mr Rouse accused his council receptionist daughter of "unconscionable behaviour".

Setting out the background to the father and daughter dispute, the judge described how the defendant had only kept ties with one son after his marriage broke up.

The former joiner, who hasn't been able to work for years because of health problems, wanted no contact with his ex-wife or any of their other eight children, the court heard.

Mr Justice Horner commented: "He is of a misanthropic disposition, the court was told, and avoids for the most part the company of others."

With Mr Rouse unable to attend court to contest his daughter's claim, the judge held that she was telling the truth.

"I conclude that the defendant's case has no substance in law or on fact," he said.

Ruling that the declaration of trust is legal, valid and binding, Mr Justice Horner confirmed: "Accordingly, the defendant holds 16 Waterside Street, Strabane, on the terms appearing on the Trust for the plaintiff absolutely, but the defendant has the right to reside there until his death rent-free."

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