This is probably the most ridiculous court case you’ll hear all year. The widow of a property tycoon killed in a helicopter crash is fighting a huge court battle with her stepson, because she says she wasn’t given enough money in her husband’s will, and needs £372,000 ($715,000) to live on each year, as reported by numerous organisations.
Thandi Wooldridge was widowed in 2010, when her husband Ian was killed on his way back from a day pheasant shooting in Northern Ireland after his helicopter crashed on Mourne Mountain. He left behind two sons, Charlie and Rhett.
Ian Wooldridge, along with his brother Graham, founded the Wooldridge Group. It specialises in demolition and construction, and is worth around £40 million, according to various media reports.
When Wooldridge died, he left around £10 million of assets, including the family home Glanfield Manor, in Surrey, which he and his wife built together. The house was given to Mrs Wooldridge, along with about £1.6 million more of assets. It is now thought that Glanfield Manor is worth about £4.25 million.
This is not enough for Mrs Wooldridge though, and she wants roughly £3.75 million more from her husband’s estate so that she can keep living what her barrister called in court on Tuesday “an extraordinarily luxurious lifestyle, vastly in excess of what most people could ever aspire to.”
“That lifestyle included numerous long-haul holidays, accompanied by the most luxurious travel and accommodation on offer. It included luxury cars, dinners and social and sporting events and the purchase by Ian of numerous luxury gifts,” Richard Wilson QC told London County Court.
The details of the £372,000 a year Mrs Wooldridge says she needs are significant. The widow claimed in court that she needs around £178,000 for social events, clothes, jewels, and what reports call “general entertainment”.
The most amazing of the demands however relate to Mrs Wooldridge’s cars and holidays. She claims to need £65,000 a year for holidays, and £58,000 for transport. Mrs Wooldridge and her son, Rhett, who is 11, take holidays in Barbados every year, she said in the court.
She also drives a Bentley and Range Rover, both of which she insists she needs.
On top of that, she says she has to spend nearly £80,000 on maintaining her house.
“I know that my husband would never have wanted me to worry or to be in this situation where I’m fighting for what he wanted for us,” Mrs Wooldridge said.
Charlie Wooldridge, who is now the Commercial Director of the Wooldridge Group, and is in control of the other assets left by his father, says that his stepmother doesn’t need that much money, and that giving her more money could destabilise the position of the family business.
He also says that after his father died, he spent a large amount of his inheritance on gambling, but is now far more responsible. “I’ve done a lot of gambling over the past four years,” said he said. “I’ve been grieving and so I’ve done a lot of things I shouldn’t have done.”
The presiding judge in the case, Judge Walden-Smith has reserved her ruling until a later date.
If you want to read more about it, the full account from this crazy court case can be found here.