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Broke Belfast businesswoman spotted driving £60,000 Maserati

Debt burdened Diane Osborne explains why she drives luxury "pool cars" including a Porsche, Range Rover and a Bentley

By Ciaran Barnes, Chief Reporter

Published 05/11/2015

Diane Osborne outside the Belfast Coffee Company on Royal Avenue with her Maserati which she claims is a company pool car.
Diane Osborne outside the Belfast Coffee Company on Royal Avenue with her Maserati which she claims is a company pool car.

A broke businesswoman has been accused of rubbing her creditors’ noses in it after she was spotted driving around in a brand new Italian sports car.

Diane Osborne – who owed £600,000 to a string of firms – was pictured getting into an expensive Maserati outside the Belfast Coffee Company on Royal Avenue where she works.

But she says she doesn’t know what all the fuss is about because she has also been driving a Bentley, a Range Rover and a Porsche which she says are all company ‘pool cars’ — and she claims the person who tipped off Sunday Life about the Maserati must have a grudge.

The luxury Italian motor, which has an apparent personalised number plate, costs at least £60,000.

When Sunday Life challenged Diane about the Maserati, she said: “It’s not mine, it’s a company car, it’s the Belfast Coffee Company’s.”

Later she denied the Maserati belonged to the Belfast Coffee Company but said it was one of number of company pool cars — including a Bentley, Range Rover and Porsche —  she has the use of.

She declined to reveal the name of the company, saying she worked for several companies as a consultant.

“I can drive the Bentley or the Porsche, any car I want. I don’t know why someone is making a deal about the Maserati, which I’ve only driven a few times. Someone has a grievance and is using this against me.”

The glamorous blonde claimed to know nothing of the personalised number plate, adding: “Maseratis aren’t that expensive, you can get one for £40,000.”

Ms Osborne told Sunday Life that she had paid off most of her debts but still owed less than £100,000 — most of it to HM Revenue and Customs.

She explained she was left with a mountain of debt after acting as a guarantor for someone who went bankrupt.

“I was left with their debts. I could have declared myself bankrupt but I was honourable. I’m working 80 hours per week and I’ve been paying off creditors.”

Osborne, a well known face on the Belfast business scene, hit a low-point in 2012 when she had £600,000 worth of debts. The Co Antrim woman’s finances were in such a sorry state that she tried to enter into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) with her long list of creditors.

Rather than pay back all the cash she owed Diane offered to return just 11p for every pound – meaning she would fork out just £66,000 instead of £600,000.

But this was rejected by her creditors including Capstone Mortgages which demanded £200,000, and HMRC which wanted £40,000.

Others Diane owed cash to included £8,000 to an east Belfast shopkeeper and £5,000 to a Lisburn shutters firm.

One businessman told Sunday Life: “She owes me a small fortune. It makes me sick to see her driving in a Maserati.”

Diane’s previous businesses include Uel’s sandwich bar on the Lisburn Road, which went bust, and a shop on the Shankill Road that closed after being attacked by the UDA.

The businesswoman was targeted due to her friendship with late loyalist Ihab Shoukri, who she met through a Christian prayer group.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

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