Belfast Telegraph

Divorce row man who took papers from ex-wife’s house fails to win bigger settlement

By Staff Reporter

A Co Down man who claimed he didn't get enough cash out his divorce resorted to "surreptitiously removing" documents from his ex-wife's home.

Penelope Peacock, from Bangor, was surprised when her ex-husband Samuel Peacock offered to repaint part of her house years after their divorce.

But he took the opportunity to go through her personal papers, removing those he thought would help him in his fight for more money.

However, a High Court judge has told him he can make no use of the "unlawfully" obtained documents in court.

Mr Justice O'Hara threw out his claim for more financial support from middle-aged Mrs Peacock, who divorced him in 2008.

During their "volatile" five-year marriage, the couple lived largely on trust funds set up by a "wealthy ancestor" of Mrs Peacock's, the judge said. And, when their marriage ended in 2008, she agreed to give him £40,000 plus a car to settle all his financial claims against her. The lump sum was later increased to £68,000, but he became convinced that she had not disclosed the true extent of her wealth. He insisted he was "not in his right mind" when he signed up to the settlement and applied to reopen the divorce.

The judge said: "It appears on the information before me that what actually happened was that he made an unexpected offer to paint part of her house. When she accepted this offer, he used the access to go through her personal papers (and) removed any he thought to be helpful."

Mr Peacock, from Comber, insisted that he had not "stolen" the documents, but the judge said he had "surreptitiously removed" them.

Although the documents were "not under lock and key", they were in a private house and had been taken in breach of her right to privacy.

Banning him from relying on the documents in court, he added: "The only rational conclusion is that he knew he was acting unlawfully, to put it politely."

The judge said the "simple truth" was that Mr Peacock was aware of the trust's existence when he agreed to the settlement. There was no evidence that he was not of sound mind when he signed up to the deal, he added. There had been "no scheming or non-disclosure" by Mrs Peacock and her ex-husband's bid for more cash stood "no prospect of success".

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