Footballer Robbie Keane and his wife Claudine win £300K court fight to evict fashionista, 74, out of their £3.8m home after she and her drummer friend withheld £8,000-a-month rent 'because they were left with no heating or hot water for two winters'

Ex-Premier League footballer Robbie Keane and his wife Claudine have won a £300,000 court fight to kick an elderly fashionista out of their £3.8million mansion after she stopped paying the £8,000-a-month rent.

The former Spurs, Leeds, LA Galaxy and Ireland striker and his TV star spouse have been locked in a costly three-year legal battle with Sandi St Paul, 74, and her drummer friend Stewart Lawrence, after renting out their family home in Hertfordshire in December 2019.

Giving evidence at the Central London County Court, Mrs Keane, a former Miss Ireland contestant with a degree in finance from University College Dublin, said she had been reduced to tears by the row and was left ‘begging’ to be allowed access to her own house, fearing it was being ‘destroyed’.

Wheelchair-bound Ms St Paul, who must now leave the mansion and pay the Keanes £292,192 in rent arrears plus £70,000 towards legal fees, said outside court afterwards: ‘I hate football.’

Mr Keane and his wife – who let their house after the former footballer secured coaching jobs in Middlesbrough and Ireland – became more and more at odds with Ms St Paul and Mr Lawrence – who was a drummer for sixties icon Donovan – after rent payments stopped in April 2020.

Robbie Keane and wife Claudine Keane, pictured in LA in 2019, have won a bitter court battle that will see a fashion boutique owner evicted if she doesn't leave after failing to pay rent

Robbie Keane and wife Claudine Keane, pictured in LA in 2019, have won a bitter court battle that will see a fashion boutique owner evicted if she doesn’t leave after failing to pay rent

Sandi St Paul outside Central London County Court, where it was ruled she must leave the Keanes' home and pay them almost £300,000 in unpaid rent plus £70,000 legal costs

Sandi St Paul outside Central London County Court, where it was ruled she must leave the Keanes’ home and pay them almost £300,000 in unpaid rent plus £70,000 legal costs

Giving evidence, Claudine Keane spoke of her distress over the three-year legal battle, leaving her in tears

Giving evidence, Claudine Keane spoke of her distress over the three-year legal battle, leaving her in tears

This is the mansion at the centre of the row. Mrs Keane said she had to 'beg' to gain access to her own home

This is the mansion at the centre of the row. Mrs Keane said she had to ‘beg’ to gain access to her own home

This week, the Keanes told Central London County Court the pair owe them nearly £300,000 in back rent.

Ms St Paul, who as well as being a property developer has run a string of fashion boutiques, told Judge Heather Baucher that she and Mr Lawrence had withheld rent on the £8,000-a-month house after being left with ‘no heating or hot water for two winters’ by their famous landlords, adding that she felt the stress of the situation had led to her having a stroke.

But the judge has now ordered her out of the house – on pain of being evicted by High Court sheriffs – and handed her and Mr Lawrence a bill for £292,192 rent arrears, plus £70,000 towards Mr and Mrs Keane’s legal fees.

The court heard that Mr and Mrs Keane rented out their home in late 2019 after the striker hung up his boots and began a career in coaching, working with Jonathan Woodgate at Middlesbrough, and with the Irish national team under Mick McCarthy.

The gated five-bedroom mansion, which boats extensive gardens and a cinema room, is situated in Wood Ride, Hadley Wood, Herts, and according to online valuations is worth up to £3.8million.

Mr Lawrence had good credentials as hippy royalty, having been the drummer in sixties icon Donovan’s band, with his sister Linda marrying the singer after having had a child with The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones.

But trouble between the well-heeled landlords and tenants started after just a few months when regular rent payments dried up in April 2020.

Robbie and Claudine on their wedding day in 2008

Robbie and Claudine on their wedding day in 2008

Claudine, pictured at Cheltenham this year, said in court that she had cried on the phone as she 'begged' to gain entry

Claudine, pictured at Cheltenham this year, said in court that she had cried on the phone as she ‘begged’ to gain entry

Drummer Stewart Lawrence., who played for sixties star Donovan,  also lived in the mansion but has moved out

Drummer Stewart Lawrence., who played for sixties star Donovan,  also lived in the mansion but has moved out

Apart from a £10,000 ‘goodwill’ payment made towards rent arrears in August 2020, no money has since materialised, lawyers for the Keanes told the judge.

Mr Lawrence moved out of the property around a year ago, leaving his ‘old pal’ Ms St Paul – who was his guarantor for the rent – in occupation of the house, although she was not named on the tenancy.

Gemma De Cordova, for the Keanes, said the couple had tried to settle the case numerous times but had been forced to go to court after making no progress with their requests for back rent and being refused access to their house by Ms St Paul.

‘This is their family home, they have been denied access for a considerable period of time with no rent paid for many many months,’ she told Central London County Court.

The Keanes were childhood sweethearts. Both have gone on to be highly successful

The Keanes were childhood sweethearts. Both have gone on to be highly successful

‘These proceedings have suffered from severe delay, which is causing much distress to the the claimants and is causing rent arrears and legal costs to escalate,’ she said, going on to accuse Mr Lawrence of ‘wholesale failure to engage with the court’.

‘It is imperative that they are able to obtain the relief that they so desperately seek, primarily possession of their family home and that these proceedings come to a conclusion,’ she told the judge.

Lawyers for the Keanes also claimed Ms St Paul has no secure rights as a tenant because she moved into the property as Mr Lawrence’s ‘guest/visitor’.

Ms St Paul, who attended court in a wheelchair and without a lawyer, accused Mrs Keane of ignoring ‘heartfelt emails’ which she and Mr Lawrence sent pleading for an out-of-court ‘resolution’.

She told Judge Baucher she has been plagued by ill health in recent years and is currently recovering from two strokes.

But Mrs Keane, from the witness stand, told Ms St Paul that she had been reduced to tears and begging to be allowed access to her house by her behaviour.

She explained tensions had been ramped up to fever pitch when there was a serious leak at the property and workmen were refused access to fix it.

‘When there was a leak I begged you to let workers in and you refused. I cried on that phonecall and begged you ‘please don’t destroy my property’,’ she said.

The Keanes rented out the property as Robbie took on coaching roles in the north-east and with Ireland

The Keanes rented out the property as Robbie took on coaching roles in the north-east and with Ireland

Of Mr Lawrence, she added: ‘We were told because he was a famous person we were not allowed to have his telephone number. We have never seen him…I’ve never been offered any money.’

‘We have offered you multiple opportunities to settle this out of court and you refused. We didn’t want to come to court, we have been dragged here today,’ she added.

Ms St Paul, in reply, said that if she didn’t answer the door to tradesmen it was because of her health problems.

‘I was hospitalised twice and had to take bed rest,’ she said.

‘If somebody were to knock on the door I wouldn’t hear them from my window.

‘Nobody was ever refused entry to that house. We’ve never been anything less than pleasant to anybody who came round even after my second stroke.’

The court heard that Mr Lawrence had countersued the Keanes in a bid to offset the rent arrears against alleged failures by the Keanes to make repairs to the property, including a faulty entrance buzzer and to the underfloor heating system which Ms St Paul slammed as ‘absolute rubbish.’

Arguing in favour of the counterclaim, she told the judge: ‘We had no heating for two winters and no hot water. We had to boil kettles.

‘All we ever wanted is for Mr Keane to take half the rent whilst we move out and they do the repairs.

‘The stress of it caused me to have a second stroke,’ she claimed.

Of Mr Lawrence, she added: ‘Mr Lawrence has been in the music industry and his sister and brother-in-law are household names.’

But the judge dismissed the counterclaim due to lack of evidence supporting it.

Striking out the bid to offset the back rent, Judge Baucher said both defendants had failed to engage with the owners of the house to ‘allow access to assess disrepair’.

She went on to allow the footballer and his wife’s claims for possession of their family home and for £292,192 in rent arrears, plus £70,000 towards legal fees.

‘The order is that you are going to have to leave that house forthwith,’ she told Ms St Paul.

‘If you don’t, the High Court sheriffs will be in attendance.’

It will also cost them a further £263.01 for every day after June 20 if the Keanes are not given possession of their property.

Speaking outside court after the hearing, Ms St Paul said: ‘Somebody said he was in football…I hate football.’

During his illustrious playing career, Premier League legend Mr Keane played for Spurs, Liverpool, Coventry City and Leeds United, as well as spells abroad at LA Galaxy and Inter Milan, ending his career with 325 goals.

The former striker is also Ireland’s most-capped player and all-time top goalscorer, finding the net 68 times in 146 appearances before his international retirement in 2016.

His most recent coaching job was on Sam Allardyce’s staff at Leeds.

He met wife Claudine as teenagers and married in Dublin in 2008. She has worked as a model and TV presenter and also has a first-class finance degree from University College Dublin. They now have two sons, aged 14 and seven.

The footballer was not in court for the hearing.

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