Scrap metal widow gets £750,000

A TOP judge has handed the widow of a wealthy scrap-metal dealer a £750,000 chunk of his estate ruling he did not leave her enough in his will.Ipswich businessman, Geoffrey Baker - who died in a "tragic accident" aged 61 in 2001 and whose estate is worth up to £1,350,000 - had not been generous enough to his wife, Susan, 57, and she deserved more, Judge Paul Chaisty QC told London's High Court.

A TOP judge has handed the widow of a wealthy scrap-metal dealer a £750,000 chunk of his estate ruling he did not leave her enough in his will.

Ipswich businessman, Geoffrey Baker - who died in a "tragic accident" aged 61 in 2001 and whose estate is worth up to £1,350,000 - had not been generous enough to his wife, Susan, 57, and she deserved more, Judge Paul Chaisty QC told London's High Court.

Mrs Baker had been left with so little that she had to take her case to court on legal aid and the judge said that she had in the past even been forced to pawn jewellery so that she could buy train tickets to attend court hearings.

Effectively re-writing Mr Baker's will in his widow's favour, Judge Chaisty said she was entitled to ownership of the former matrimonial home in Henley Road, Ipswich, worth about £340,000 - along with a £410,000 lump sum.

Apart from the matrimonial home, Mr Baker's main asset was his scrap metal and vehicle recovery business - Whip Street Motors, based in Great Whip Street, Ipswich - which is now run by their four sons, Geoffrey, Jodhie (corr), Kevin and Greg.

Since their father's death, the four sons have thrust the business forward through their own dedication and hard work, to the point where, in the year ending March 2006, it made profits before tax of more than £400,000. The company also has around £800,000 in the bank.

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Paying tribute to the sons' efforts, Judge Chaisty said: "If they had not picked up the reins and continued the business it may well, and probably would, have simply folded".

Nevertheless, the judge said he was in no doubt that Mr Baker had not made "reasonable financial provision" for his widow in his will. What money she did receive from the estate had now been spent and the modest income she once received from the business had now stopped.

The four sons' "significant success" in improving the business had to be recognised, but so did their mother's efforts in bringing them up and looking after the home and family, said Judge Chaisty.

Mrs Baker told the judge from the witness box that she had endured "six years of absolute hell" since her husband died and had found the legal dispute "extremely heartbreaking".