A piece in today’s Times:
A business executive who caught her millionaire lover in bed with another woman has won a legal fight over their £2.5 million home.
Sharon Blades, 63, clashed in court with Chris Rowland, 65, over the ownership of Tadmarton House, near Banbury, Oxfordshire on the edge of the Cotswolds.
The pair were described in court as being “very much in love” when they planned to use the nine-bedroom “Italianate villa” as a weekend retreat at a time when Rowland was earning a large salary and bonuses as a City financier.
The High Court in London was told that Blades, an executive at a semiconductor business, was heartbroken months after the property was bought in 2009, when she learnt Rowland was having an affair. She said he continued to see Emmanuelle Duyck, and she was “ripped apart” after later finding them in bed together. Judge William Hansen pointed out in his ruling that when Blades made the discovery there was an altercation that resulted in her accepting a police caution for assaulting Duyck. Rowland also accepted a restraining order preventing contact with either woman for four weeks. Blades and Rowland split and a legal dispute ensued as Rowland claimed sole ownership of the house, which Blades said she half owned.
Blades told the court that Rowland had told her he “looked forward to growing old with her” and she anticipated that they would live in the mansion together in retirement.
The judge ruled yesterday that Blades was entitled to an equal share of the property, a decision that leaves her former lover with legal fees of more than £200,000. The judge said that Rowland would “regret his generosity” after he paid the purchase price for the house but registered the property in the couple’s joint names. [J4MB emphasis: Rookie mistake.]
Rowland and Blades began a relationship in 2006 and decided to buy a country home as a weekend and holiday retreat. They were said to have been charmed by the sprawling house in 24 acres. Rowland acknowledged that he had continued seeing both women for months and was “not proud of that”. He said: “Each of them wanted me to choose between them, and I had real trouble making that choice.”
Rowland claimed that after Blades discovered his affair she barred him from Tadmarton House. Twelve years after buying the mansion Rowland asked the court to rule that it belonged to him entirely — and to award him £371,000 in back rent for the time he was excluded from the property.
Blades contested the claim on the grounds that the house was in both their names. Her legal team highlighted a 2011 email from Rowland that said: “It’s at least as much yours as mine.”
Rowland told the court that there was a clear understanding that the property was held in trust for his daughter, Hanna.
Judge Hansen acknowledged that his ruling was “harsh” on Rowland “who contributed the whole of the purchase price . . . But the effect of the joint ownership of property form signed by both had clearly confirmed their intentions to buy as joint tenants”. He awarded Rowland nearly £60,000 in back rent from Blades.
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