Surrey

Lover loses High Court bid over Surrey man's will

The lover of a cancer victim who died two years ago has lost a High Court battle to claim an inheritance.

Rowena Ferneley, 49, claimed her late lover Charles Napier, who died aged 65, promised to provide for her. She claimed his family suppressed his will.

Mr Napier's family told the court the relationship was not "sincere" and Mrs Ferneley destroyed his will.

Mr Justice Mann ruled against Mrs Ferneley but said the Surrey couple had a "full and deep relationship".

Unhappy marriage

He said she failed to establish there was a conspiracy by Mr Napier's two children, Maj Stephen Napier and Catherine Brooks, and his brother, Derrick, to suppress a will.

The judge said: "I do not think that all the necessary conspirators would be capable of, or willing to enter into, the conspiracy which would be required."

The court heard Mrs Ferneley met Mr Napier in 2005 when she was unhappy in her marriage. Nine months later, they began a relationship and planned a life together.

Mr Napier asked Mrs Ferneley if she would leave her husband, and she said she wanted to but could not for economic reasons.

'House search'

"She was then very surprised when Charles said that was good because he had changed his will so that she could leave Martin (her husband) and continue in a new direction," the judge said.

After Mr Napier's death, his family searched for a will in a house he had bought on the Isle of Wight.

An electrician who worked on the property told the court he heard someone find a will and read out that Mrs Ferneley had been left most of the estate.

But the family said an unsigned and invalid document had been found that left the bulk of the estate to Mr Napier's former mistress Terry Hayden. The family said there had been no signed will.

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