A ‘psychic scammer’ and his wife have ended debt agreements over the secret ownership of a Spanish villa

The High Court has ended personal insolvency agreements (PIAs) writing off millions of euros in debt, following revelations that a couple secretly owned a luxury Spanish property.

The decision came after an Irish Independent investigation found convicted robber Tom Colton (46) – better known as ‘the psychic con man’ – and his wife Linda (46) did not reveal their ownership of a villa in Lanzarote when their arrangements were approved.

The husband and wife obtained debt cancellations of 2.7 million euros and 2 million euros respectively in February.

However, following the High Court’s ruling, these write-offs no longer apply and the couple have lost creditor protection, meaning they could potentially go bankrupt.

Judge Alexander Owens said there were “significant omissions” in their financial statements which misled their mortgage lender into agreeing to the PIAs.

He said the omissions “involved a serious breach by debtors of their obligations of good faith and full and honest disclosure in the personal insolvency arrangement process.”

Explaining his decision to terminate PIAs, the judge said: “The legal system that grants debt relief is conditional on the honesty of the debtors.

“Debtors should fully disclose their affairs and do their best to honor their commitments within their means.

“If courts fail to meet these standards, statutory provisions designed to protect creditors and the public interest in a rigorous process subject to meaningful judicial review are frustrated.”

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Leinster Rugby have said Tom Colton has stepped down as referee. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Leinster Rugby have said Tom Colton has stepped down as referee. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

In April, the Irish Independent revealed the Coltons were the registered owners of a lavish holiday home with private pool and hot tub in Playa Blanca.

The villa was purchased in their name last September, just a fortnight before they both filed sworn financial statements of their assets and liabilities which made no mention of ownership.

It was then extensively refurbished and is now worth over €400,000.

Following the story’s publication, their Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP), Eugene McDarby, filed paperwork seeking termination of the PIAs due to a “material misstatement” in the financial statements provided by the couple and of their failure to fully disclose all assets, income and debts to him.

It was the first time such a claim had been made in the High Court and it was backed by their mortgage lender, Mars Capital Finance.

Mr and Mrs Colton, who run a business that provides celebrants for ‘spiritual’ wedding ceremonies, denied being the beneficial owners of the property, saying they were acting as trustees of a company, Grá Agus Solas .

But the court heard it was the company through which they ran their wedding business, that it was 100% owned by Linda Colton, that her husband was a director between August 2016 and May 2018 and remained involved in daily management. of the company.

Colton, who claims being a medium capable of communicating with the dead, was once imprisoned for stealing €320,000 from an elderly couple while working as an accountant.

The husband and wife, from Celbridge, Co Kildare, agreed they should have disclosed the ownership.

Through their attorneys, they pleaded with the court not to terminate the PIAs, urging the court to order their PIP to prepare a proposal to change the arrangements.

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Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote


Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

In affidavits, the Coltons said they took “full responsibility” for the villa’s non-disclosure, but claimed it was “caused solely by a misunderstanding” on their behalf.

However, Judge Owens said he found the PIAs’ requests to terminate were “appropriate and proportionate”.

The judge said that although he made the benign assumption that the trust was genuine, the couple were “grossly negligent in not informing their practitioner of the personal insolvency of these transactions”.

He said he would not order proposals to change the provisions to be drawn up because the non-disclosures were “so significant that it was impossible to conclude that they deserved a second chance”.

Judge Owens also said that any variations would involve changes so significant that they would essentially be new arrangements. This would be contrary to the policy set out in the Personal Insolvency Act, which states that debtors can only enter a PIA once.

He also said that in affidavits filed with the court, the Coltons “did not show a clear path that could produce a fair outcome for creditors.”

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Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote


Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

At the hearing on the application last month, Keith Farry, Mr McDarby’s lawyer, said confidence in the personal insolvency system was at stake.

Niall Ó hUiginn, attorney for Mars, said the fund only voted in favor of PIAs on the basis that the information provided was true and accurate.

In an affidavit opened in court, Joe Carter, head of collections at Mars, said it was implausible that the Coltons had sworn to prescribed financial statements that omitted a large overseas real estate transaction that they had closed only two weeks. earlier.

Mr Carter said the integrity of the personal insolvency system depended on the accuracy of information provided by debtors.

Mars had agreed to restructure the couple’s €681,000 mortgage debt so they could save their family home.

Under the now terminated agreements, around €40,000 of what they owed Mars was written off and the couple were given a new 22-year term to pay off the rest of what was owed, with a rate attractive tracking.

Tom Colton was jailed and restricted as a company director in 2015 after he admitted embezzling funds an elderly couple gave him to reach a tax settlement with the revenue commissioners.

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Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote


Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Villa Penguina in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

He continued to be on the Grá Agus Solas trustee list for a long time after his conviction.

In an affidavit, he claimed he had no knowledge of his disqualification and said he quit once he found out.

The former accountant was dubbed “the psychic trickster” in news reports after his imprisonment.

Despite the conviction, he remains registered with the Department of Social Welfare as a wedding officiant.

Until recently, he was a prominent administrator and referee for Leinster Rugby, taking charge of minors and lower level adult matches in Dublin.

However, Leinster’s rugby branch said in May that he had stepped back from all refereeing duties until his personal matters were sorted out.