Grieving mother says son was poisoned by his wife in toxic will row

Grieving mother says her dead son, 53, was poisoned by his wife using ‘inappropriate medication’ after losing battle over his £815,000 estate in toxic will row

  • Pensioner Mary Farrell claimed Amanda Burden, 57, hastened her son’s death
  • But a bid for a new inquest into Ray Farrell’s death was rejected this week
  • Mr Farrell died aged 53 in 2016 from mesothelioma, a asbestos-caused cancer
  • His mother went to court to claim £130,000 she said she and her husband had loaned their son to help buy his house. Miss Burden argued the money was a gift
  • Judge Peter Wulwik ruled Mrs Farrell was not entitled to a penny of the estate 

A mother who lost a legal battle with her daughter-in-law over her son’s £815,000 estate has returned to court alleging she poisoned him.

Pensioner Mary Farrell claimed Amanda Burden, 57, ‘hastened his death by deliberately giving him inappropriate medication’ for her ‘personal financial gain’.

But a bid for a new inquest into Ray Farrell’s death was rejected this week by High Court judges who ruled there was no basis for the mother’s allegations.

Mr Farrell died aged 53 in October 2016 from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos, to which he had been exposed as a fitter’s mate in his teens.

The court was told the electrician from Overton, Hampshire, stopped work five years before his death when doctors estimated he had six months to live and underwent chemotherapy. 

He decided not to tell his two children or friends about the disease and until his death, only his parents and Miss Burden knew.


Pensioner Mary Farrell (left) claimed Amanda Burden (right), 57, ‘hastened his death by deliberately giving him inappropriate medication’ for her ‘personal financial gain’

Mr Farrell and Miss Burden, a pensions consultant, married eight months before his death in an unusual private ceremony at home attended only by his parents. He also signed a new will, witnessed by his parents without seeing it.

A 2019 court case over his estate was told Mr Farrell left £150,000 to each of his children from a previous relationship and the ‘residue’ of £515,000 to Miss Burden.

His mother went to court to claim £130,000 she said she and her husband had loaned their son to help buy his house. Miss Burden argued the money was a gift.

With no documentation to prove the loan, Judge Peter Wulwik ruled Mrs Farrell was not entitled to a penny of the estate and must pay £100,000 in lawyers’ bills instead.

Undeterred, she represented herself in the High Court in London last month in a bid for a new inquest into her son’s death.

Mr Farrell’s daughter Kelly had ‘raised questions’ about about finding two carrier bags of medicines the day after his death. They were unused prescriptions.

Several months later Mrs Farrell told police her son may have been poisoned. After making inquiries with the coroner, the police ‘took the matter no further’.

Mrs Farrell, a registered nurse in her 80s, then launched her legal bid for a fresh inquest.

A judgment by Lord Justice Popplewell, backed by two other judges, said Mrs Farrell’s suspicion of ‘deliberate drugging and financial motive’ were based on the unusual wedding and new will.

He concluded that there was ‘no realistic possibility’ of a new inquest finding anything in her suspicions, which were ‘without any real foundation’.

He added: ‘The interests of justice do not require that Mrs Farrell be given a platform to air her unjustified suspicions.’ 

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