A judge has ruled that a woman intentionally spread lies about her brother to ensure he didn’t get a share of their late father’s estate valued at seven figures.

Yahoo News reports that Sonia Whittle was overhead telling Gerald Whittle that her brother David had stolen money from his mother-in-law and that he assaulted women. When David confronted her with the lies, she had shouted abuse at him.

The siblings’ father appointed Sonia and her partner Ray Spicer as executors of his will three weeks before he died in 2016. Sonia refused to allow the authorities to tell David about his father’s death and he only found out two months later.

Trainee solicitor took instructions

Gerald’s solicitors had sent a trainee legal executor to take instructions for the will, and Sonia had told the man that David and his wife Julie were “psychopaths and criminals”. She also alleged that David had looked for his father’s bank details while he was in hospital, stolen Gerald’s cars and antiques and forced their way into his house, resulting in the police issuing a harassment order against them.

The district judge Tony Woodburn found none of this to be true. He described the sister’s behaviour as “disgraceful”.

Bristol High Court heard that apart from a bequest to David of Gerald’s old cars, the entire estate, which had been valued at circa £1 million was left to Sonia Whittle and Ray Spicer.

Landmark ruling on invalid will

Law firm Royds Withy King advised David on the inheritance dispute and secured a landmark ruling where Gerald’s will was declared invalid because it had been obtained fraudulently and through undue influence.

The crime “fraudulent calumny” has only been used in court rulings three times since 2007.

The firm’s Amanda Noyce as head of the Inheritance Disputes Team, disproved all of Sonia’s allegations and found that it had been Sonia and not David who had sold Gerald’s antiques at auction. The team also gathered disclosure and barring service certificates to show that neither David nor his wife had ever been involved in any illegal activities.

‘Terrible ordeal’

She said David and Julie had endured a “terrible ordeal” and “intense emotional trauma”, as they had been very close to Gerald and played a key role in his care in his later years. Fraud and undue influence, she added, took place behind closed doors and was extremely difficult to prove, but the firm had been lucky enough to have more evidence than was usually available.

In this case, there had been a written record of the various allegations Sonia made and medical evidence relating to their father’s frailty and physical vulnerability.