The ’squatter‘ living in a €1m house with his wife… and the other woman

The Irish Mail on Sunday can today reveal the extraordinary lifestyle of the ’squatter‘ who recently won a landmark case allowing him to keep a house he broke into almost three decades ago.

The Supreme Court ruled two weeks ago that Des Grogan should keep the Edwardian house in Dublin which he had illegally entered in 1982 after discovering that the occupant had died without any next of kin.

The Supreme Court ruling may have given the impression of Mr Grogan as an impoverished down-and-out who made his way into an abandoned house as a way to get a roof over his head.
Location: Grogan and his wife own this Howth Road mansion which commands views of Dublin Bay

Location: Grogan and his wife own this Howth Road mansion which commands views of Dublin Bay

The truth is very different: Mr Grogan is a wealthy landlord who has amassed a huge property portfolio since the Eighties and lives in a huge mansion with views of Dublin Bay near Clontarf.

The 55-year-old ’squatter‘ also runs a busy B&B with his wife, Mary, on the Drumcondra Road just outside Dublin city centre.

The businessman also set up an oil exploration company with Natasha Savelyeva, an eastern European tennis coach with whom he has an 11-year-old daughter.

Des Grogan was awarded ownership by a court of the house he broke into almost 30 years ago

Des Grogan was awarded ownership by a court of the house he broke into almost 30 years ago

Extraordinarily, Mr Grogan, his wife AND Miss Savelyeva appear to live happily together in their mansion – worth some €1m – on the Howth Road.

Until now, Mr Grogan has avoided the publicity associated with his court win. He has refused interview requests and was not spotted at court earlier this month to hear the Supreme Court judges award him ownership of the property he had squatted in.

The judges had heard how Mr Grogan, then a 22-year-old auctioneer, kicked in the back door of former barrister Alice Dolan’s home on Enniskerry Road, in the comfortable Dublin suburb of Phibsborough, after her death in October 1981.

The businessman moved in with his wife, Mary, after learning through his job that Mrs Dolan had died with no next of kin.

Generally, when a person dies leaving no family or will indicating who should take over their estate, the property is given to the State. Yet the Supreme Court ruled by a majority decision two weeks ago that Mr Grogan could keep the property as he had earned squatter’s rights by virtue of exceeding the 12-year period required for adverse possession.

But any notion that the Grogans were a young couple desperate to find a home where they could begin their married life is misleading.

The couple were already homeowners. When they married two years earlier in 1980, they bought a home on Russell Avenue near Croke Park – which they left after Mr Grogan broke into the property on the Enniskerry Road.

Nine years later, when Mr Grogan was still apparently squatting in Mrs Dolan’s home, he and his wife were listed on property deeds at another house they bought on Enniskerry Road.

And the MoS has since discovered this was only the start of a property portfolio which Mr Grogan amassed in Dublin over the next 20 years.

Most of the properties have since had their mortgages paid off. The real-estate tycoon, who owned at least ten properties at the height of his reign, rented out the various addresses he owns around the city.
Aerial view of the house near Clontarf

Aerial view of the house near Clontarf

Until last year, his portfolio included four houses in Phibsborough, two on Russell Avenue, a property in Rathmines, on Dublin’s southside, and a further three he operates with his wife as a single guesthouse in Drumcondra.

The businessman steadily built up his portfolio during the Eighties and Nineties by buying houses in the city.

In September 2004, the month after the Grogans remortgaged their mansion on the Howth Road, they also satisfied five other outstanding loans on properties they owned.

In court documents, Mr Grogan listed his home address as the Upper Drumcondra Road property where he and his 55-year-old wife, Mary, run their B&B.

The website for the business, where rooms cost just €15 per night, also includes a number of reviews from guests thanking both Mr and Mrs Grogan for their stay.

One South African guest who stayed in May last year said: ‚Mary was helpful in assisting me to check in after hours, and Des was very friendly and helpful with local information.‘

Another reviewer from America said: ‚Breakfast was a treat in the mornings and Mary and Des were very helpful. Des gave wonderful recommendations for sights to see in the area and as a result my cousin and I ended up having a terrific day in Howth and were so pleased by the recommendation.‘

The most recent Dublin City Council electoral register lists both Des and Mary Grogan as living in the guesthouse. All property deeds lodged by the couple since 2001 also list the pair as living in Drumcondra.
Possess: The five-bed Phibsborough house at the centre of the Supreme Court ruling

Possess: The five-bed Phibsborough house at the centre of the Supreme Court ruling

And the day after the Supreme Court ruling, staff at the B&B said that Mr and Mrs Grogan lived in the guesthouse but were away for the weekend.

However, the Grogans do not live full-time in the guesthouse; instead, they appear to spend more of their nights in a palatial home on up-market Howth Road.

At the home overlooking Dublin Bay, the 50m driveway is guarded by security gates.

The massive house, with a distinctive copper-rim-finish roof terrace, was designed to have spectacular panoramic views of Dublin Bay.

According to plans lodged with Dublin City Council, ‚roof terracing immediately in front of the south-facing bay window is dedicated to planting walls and railings to the east and west flanks are heightened to encourage planting to reinforce privacy screening.

‚A part of the roof terraces slightly to the southwest accommodates some outdoor balcony seating. This leads to an exterior stairway also screened to a patio.‘

Another renovation saw the removal of an existing hipped roof on the second storey and the construction of a flat roof with part penthouse/tank room on the third level.

The original documents also show how the Grogans demolished an existing extension and garage to build a ‚communal living/dining/kitchen‘.

They also point out that ‚the house is for a single family occupancy‘. The plans, lodged by Mr and Mrs Grogan in November 2001, came two months after Ms Savelyeva gave birth to Catherine Mary Savelyeva Grogan – Des Grogan’s daughter.
Natasha Savelyeva teaches tennis at a Clontarf gym – and is mother of Des Grogan¿s 11-year-old child
Walk: Des Grogan’s wife Mary, above left, walking her dogs at a beach

Des Grogan’s wife Mary (right) walking her dogs at a beach. Natasha Savelyeva (left) teaches tennis at a Clontarf gym – and is mother of Des Grogan’s 11-year-old child

She was born in August 2001 to secondary school teacher Ms Savelyeva and Mr Grogan, who listed his occupation as landlord on the baby’s birth certificate. Both gave their addresses as the Grogans‘ B&B in Drumcondra.

In addition to having a child together, Mr Grogan and Ms Savelyeva shared directorship of Charter Energy Corporation Limited – which was set up in 2007 and lists its activities as ‚extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas‘.

The firm, which also lists Zaur Hidoyatov from Rush, Co. Dublin, as a director, has not filed any company documents since its inception.

Company records register Ms Savelyeva as living at the Grogans‘ family home on Howth Road, while Mr Grogan is listed as living at the guesthouse in Drumcondra.

However, Thoms Dublin Street Directory for 2010 shows both Mr Grogan and Ms Savelyeva as living on Howth Road.

The directory does not show any listing for Mary Grogan at either the Drumcondra address or on the Howth Road. Also listed at the Drumcondra address in 2009 was a company called Store2DoorTennis which Mrs Grogan set up for the ‚online sales of tennis equipment, shoes and rackets‘.

Ms Savelyeva, who teaches tennis at Westwood Gym in Clontarf, is also listed in an online directory of part-time sports classes.

Last week, when the MoS called to Mr Grogan’s home the landlord said he did not wish to discuss his Supreme Court verdict but said his legal team could be contacted.

The MoS put a series of questions to Mr Grogan through his lawyers aiming to understand whether he lives at the Drumcondra B&B or at the Howth Road mansion or both.

He was also asked how he could morally justify claiming a property as a squatter when he possessed such obvious wealth. (Mr Grogan chose to seek costs against the State in a move described as ‚egregious‘ by Justice Nial Fennelly. That bid was refused.)

However no response was forthcoming from Mr Grogan. Yesterday Ms Savelyeva also declined to comment.

As the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on his successful squat earlier this month, Ms Justice Macken said that Mr Grogan had been ‚clever‘ in the way he had handled the legalities of his appeal.

Judging from the way in which he lives, that’s not the only thing Desmond Grogan is clever at.