Posh ponies, holidays, jewellery... and a husband’s fraud
Their grade A ponies could fetch up to £212,000 at the height of the Celtic Tiger.
Now a couple whose lavish lifestyle and “string of expensive ponies” amazed a Dublin High Court judge are at the centre of a company dispute that has sent ripples through Ireland's close-knit horsey set.
Earlier this week the Republic’s High Court ruled that Tyrone businessman Desmond (Dessie) Bell carried out a fraud on his estranged wife Martina Bell when he transferred a loan of almost €1m (£858,000) from their company to another firm.
Martina Bell, who is the daughter of Ulster mega-developer Seamus McAleer, an entrant on the Sunday Times Rich List, is a co-owner along with Mr Bell of Rollville Ltd, a company based in Navan, Co Meath.
Mr Bell was ordered to buy out his estranged wife's share of the business after he admitted forging her signature on documents in March 2006 to obtain a €965,904 loan (£819,000) from Bank of Scotland (Ireland).
The judge said the couple had bought expensive cars, jewellery, holidays and “a string of very expensive ponies for their children” when Mr Bell misapplied some of the funds of Rollville.