Retired postman handed her his entire £600,000 fortune over cup of tea

Retired postman who ditched his wife and four children for a woman half his age handed her his entire £600,000 fortune over a cup of tea

  • John Payne, 59, handed over his entire estate to his second wife over a cup of tea
  • Kim Payne has been embroiled in a battle with his son John Payne Junior, 57
  • He left his first wife Vera Gabriel and their three kids for younger lover Kim

A retired postman who left his wife and their four children for a woman half his age signed over his entire fortune to his young lover ‘over a cup of tea’.

John Payne, 59, handed over his £600,000 estate to Kim Payne, who was then in her twenties, a few years before his death.

After he passed away in 2012 aged 74, Kim and his son John Payne Junior, 57, have been embroiled in a heated legal battle over the inheritance.

Mrs Payne, now in her forties, claimed her husband signed over everything to her ‘over a cup of tea’ in a will witnessed and signed in 1998, the year after they wed. 

But Mr Payne Junior, 57, insisted there was ‘no way’ his late dad would have cut his kids out and left everything to Kim.   

John Payne with three of his children from his first marriage which ended in the mid-1990s

Kim Payne celebrating victory in the appeal outside London’s Appeal Court on Friday afternoon

Ms Payne claimed her deceased husband left everything to her ‘over a cup of tea’ after they married

He claimed his father made another will in 2012, trumping the earlier one, leaving Kim just £15,000 and the rest to him and his son Tommy.

But today at London’s Civil Appeal Court, Lord Justice Henderson ruled that the 1998 was validly executed and held sway.

The judge told John Junior he ‘must accept’ that his step-mother would get the whole of his father’s estate.

The court heard that, in March 1997, after 30 years of marriage, Mr Payne senior dumped first wife, Vera Gabriel, who is now in her late 70s, later marrying Kim.

Under the will dated May 1998, Kim was left the whole of his fortune, including his three-quarter stake in a £450,000 east London house, and a share portfolio his son says was worth £250,000.

But, in February last year, after a ‘protracted’ battle between John Junior and Kim at Central London County Court, Judge Diana Faber concluded that neither the 2012 nor the 1998 will were in fact valid.

The 2012 will was ‘not witnessed correctly,’ and the judge would not approve the 1998 will as Kim had been ‘unable to produce a signed copy.’

The 1998 document had not been signed by the witnesses, who instead wrote their names in capital letters.

But Lord Justice Henderson said that the 1998 will ought to have been approved, having heard fresh oral evidence from one of the neighbours who witnessed it.

That witness, costume designer Robert Gordon, had ‘a reliable recollection’ of having been telephoned and asked to Mr Payne’s house.

He and another man witnessed the making of the will and wrote their names, he told the court.

Then ‘they had a cup of tea together’ with Mr Payne and Kim ‘and the witnesses then left the house,’ Lord Justice Henderson said. 

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Flaux, said the new witness evidence provided ‘strong support for Mrs Payne’s case.’

John Payne senior holding John Payne junior as a child before he left his first wife and family for his second wife

His £450,000 house in East London (pictured) is at the centre of the debate over the inheritance money

John Payne Junior and his mum Vera Gabriel outside London’s appeal court before the hearing

‘The two witnesses were each present when the deceased signed the will and, by separately filling in their details in the specified places on the will form, the natural inference to draw is that they thereby intended to write their names as witnesses of the deceased’s signature,’ he said.

‘That was why they had been asked to come to Mr Payne’s home,’ he said, adding that there ‘can be no sensible reason to doubt’ that they intended to witness the will being made, despite printing rather than signing their names.

He said that the 1998 will ‘gives every appearance of having been validly executed.’

‘There was no requirement in law for the witnesses to have signed the will in the modern sense of that word, as opposed to writing their names with the intention of attesting it,’ he added.

‘I am left in no doubt that the 1998 will was validly executed.’

Addressing the visibly upset son, the judge said: ‘It is important that John Payne should now recognise and accept our decision.’

He told John junior, who sat shaking in court as the ruling was delivered, that his long-running bid to challenge the validity of the 1998 will ‘must now cease.’

‘He must accept that the 1998 will is the true last will and testament of his father,’ the judge concluded.

Outside court, after an earlier hearing John junior said: ‘My family are not from a wealthy background. It has taken four generations of hard-working ancestors saving until there was enough money spare for my late father to put a deposit on a house.’

Mrs Gabriel, who also attended court, said that her son had been ‘crucified’ by the strain of the court battle.  

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