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Top judge says Pembrokeshire businessman’s will was ‘a mistake’

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AN ELDERLY Pembrokeshire woman who was left nothing in her millionaire partner’s will has been saved from poverty by a senior judge.

Joan Thompson, 79, lived as man and wife with Amroth landowner, Wynford Hodge, for 42 years before his death, aged 94, in 2017.

Mr Hodge, who owned Parsonage Farm and Caravan Park, along with land and other properties, was worth over £1.5 million when he died.

But he left Mrs Thompson without a penny, instead bequeathing everything to two of his tenants who had been kind to him in his final years.

In a letter attached to his will, Mr Hodge was adamant that he did not want Joan or her four children to inherit any of his fortune.

Describing Joan as “financially comfortable”, he said she had “her own finances” and would have no need of his money.

But Judge Milwyn Jarman said that was a “mistake” and Mrs Thompson had in fact been left with only modest savings of about £2,500.

Reluctantly living on benefits in a nursing home, she wanted to return to the family estate where she had friends on the caravan park.

Now, in an extremely rare decision, Judge Jarman has ruled that Mr Hodge failed to match up to his responsibilities to his long-term partner.

And he effectively re-wrote the wealthy businessman’s will by awarding Mrs Thompson a cottage on the estate worth £225,000.

She will also receive almost £190,000 in cash to pay for the cottage’s refurbishment and to provide her with reasonable financial support.

Mr Hodge, who suffered from prostate cancer, made more than 10 wills before his death, the High Court in Cardiff heard.

In hospital shortly before he died, he told Mrs Thompson “not to worry as she would be well looked after”, said the judge.

But, in the last will he signed in December 2016, Mr Hodge left everything he had to tenants, Karla Evans and Agon Berisha.

Working as subsistence market gardeners and on the caravan park, the kindly couple became instant millionaires on Mr Hodge’s death.

Parents of two young children, they rented a house called Penffordd, in Narbeth, from Mr Hodge, doing unpaid errands for him and helping him with his shopping.

But, when asked, Ms Evans said she didn’t want to be a millionaire and would be happy with an annual holiday and enough money to bring up her kids.

Judge Jarman said that, even after his ruling, the couple would receive “by far the major part” of Mr Hodge’s seven-figure estate.

But the landowner’s belief that Mrs Thompson would need no financial support after his death was simply a “mistake”, he said.

She and her son, Dean, then a young boy, moved into a caravan at Parsonage Farm in the 1970s and into the farmhouse with Mr Hodge soon afterwards.

She worked on the farm and on the caravan site without pay and helped care for Mr Hodge’s mother, said the judge.

They were together for over 40 years and, after Mr Hodge’s health began to fail, she acted as his main carer.

Mrs Thompson had a serious stroke about 12 years ago and has suffered heart attacks since then, the court heard.

And, since her husband’s death, her only income has been benefits of little more than £1,000 per month.

Mrs Thompson, who gave evidence from a wheelchair, said she was determined to leave the nursing home and return to the family estate.

Granting her wish, Judge Jarman said that, by disinheriting her, Mr Hodge had failed to meet the “obligations and responsibilities” he owed her.

He ordered that a property called Elidyr Cottage should be transferred to her, where she can be looked after by Dean and his wife.

Mrs Thompson will also receive almost £30,000 from Mr Hodge’s estate, to pay for the cottage’s refurbishment, and £160,000 to cover future expenses.

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Conservatives hold on to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat

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THE CONSERVATIVES have held on to their Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat despite Labour closing the gap.

Sam Kurtz will take over the seat from the outgoing Angela Burns who held a majority of 3,400 at the last election.

This time, the gap was just 936 to Labour’s Hassan Riaz who picked up 10,304 votes.

Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell picked up 6,615 votes.

The turnout in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire was slightly up to 52.12% from 51.2% in 2016.

However, with a larger electorate thanks to votes for 16/17-year-olds, the number of votes cast went up by almost 3,000.

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Paul Davies re-elected as Conservatives hold Preseli Pembrokeshire

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PAUL DAVIES has been re-elected to represent the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency.

He won with 12,295 votes, while there were 10,895 votes for Labour’s Jackie Jones.

Plaid Cymru candidate Cris Tomos gained just over 6,000 votes and there were also 1,239 for Reform UK candidate Alan Dennison.

There were over 3000 more votes cast in 2016, down largely in part to the fact that 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote in this election.

Both the Conservatives and Labour received more votes than before while the gap to Labour closed to just 1,400.

After being elected, Paul Davies said he would continue to ‘fight for Pembrokeshire’ and thanked those who had been involved in his campaign.

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Former Cardigan Castle director sentencing delayed

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THE SENTENCING of a former director of Cardigan Castle who has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft totalling over £40,000 has been delayed.

Former director, Jac Davies, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft was due to be sentenced on Wednesday (May 4) at Swansea Crown Court – but has now been delayed.

Davies who held the £40,000 a year post fraudulently obtained £33,098.75 and stole a further £7,932.97 from the award winning restoration project..

Davies held his position at Cardigan Castle from September 2017 to November 2019.

The defendant has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining £4,143.20 from the castle on December 21, 2017.

Again Davies admitted to fraudulently obtaining £28,955.55 between February 4, 2019 and November 3, 2019.

Two further charges of theft were also admitted – one charge of  theft from the castle of £1,908.18 between May 2, 2018 and May 24, 2019 and a further charge of theft from Cardigan Castle Enterprises to the sum of £6,024.79.

Dyfed-Powys Police conducted a year long investigation after being contacted by the castle board of directors.

Financial discrepancies were identified during financial monitoring.

An internal investigation was launched and Davies left his position within the castle in October 2019 following a disciplinary process.

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