Beds, Herts & Bucks

Man wins aunt's £350,000 home over animal charities

A man has fought off seven animal charities at the High Court to keep the £350,000 Hertfordshire home where he cared for his aunt in her final years.

Kenneth King, 58, claimed he was given the "uninhabitable" house in Harpenden before retired policewoman June Fairbrother died in April 2011.

The charities said it was willed to them, and Mr King could not be trusted.

Deputy Judge Charles Hollander believed Mr King's aunt told him to look after her pets in the house she gave him.

Mr King said that his aunt had said the house in Kingscroft Road - regarded by a valuer as "uninhabitable" - would be "yours when I go", and gave him the deeds.

Lawyers for the charities said his evidence about a "deathbed gift" was unreliable as Mr King had been bankrupted twice and jailed for acting as a company director when disqualified.

'Powerful evidence'

The charities were Chiltern Dog Rescue, Blue Cross Animal Shelter, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, The Donkey Sanctuary, The International Fund for Animal Welfare, the PDSA and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Ruling in Mr King's favour, Deputy Judge Hollander said that Miss Fairbrother adored animals and had a variety of cats and dogs.

"It was common knowledge she intended to leave the property to animal charities," he said.

But after the will of 1998 she had signed documents, which did not constitute valid wills, but they left the house to Mr King so he could care for her three dogs and two cats.

The judge said the documents provided "powerful corroborative evidence" she intended to leave her property to Mr King.

He rejected the argument that Miss Fairbrother did not have capacity to make a gift of her property in her later years.

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