Belfast Telegraph

Man claimed one of his brothers attacked his late mother's brain with radiation in bid to end her life, court hears

By Alan Erwin

A man locked in a family dispute over his late mother's estate claimed one of his brothers attacked her brain with radiation in a bid to end her life, a court has heard.

Fleet Cooke accused his rivals of mental cruelty towards Emily Conway, leaving her malnourished and isolated after he moved from Northern Ireland to England.

The allegations, which were denied and backed by no evidence, emerged during his failed challenge to being refused reappointment as an executor of the estate.

Mr Cooke's case against his brothers Kenneth and Malcolm also involved the running of a successful agricultural contracting and quarry equipment business based on the family home at an undisclosed location.

The Court of Appeal heard how his brothers took over its management after he left Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

Mrs Conway was said to have been close to Fleet Cooke, and lived with him in Cambridge in her later years.

Following her death in 2008 Fleet and Malcolm Cooke were both named as executors of her estate.

But after Malcolm removed himself from the role a legal battle ensued.

A previous writ issued by Fleet Cooke, alleging breach of trust and loss of earnings from businesses he claimed to have given to his brothers on condition they looked after their frail mother, were struck out two years ago.

Setting out the background to the case, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "He contended that the brothers were guilty of mental cruelty to their mother.

"His submissions stated that his mother had developed glaucoma and become blind because of stress and that one of the brothers had used radiation to attack his mother's brain in an attempt to end her life.

"In addition it was claimed that the brothers had left their mother malnourished and isolated."

Sir Declan stressed: "There was no medical evidence to support these assertions which were denied by the other brothers."

In 2012 a settlement was reached where the land was to be divided between the parties.

But Fleet Cooke then launched new proceedings in an attempt to be re-instated as executor of his mother's will.

A judge refused his application, ruling in favour of his brother Malcolm's bid for the Official Solicitor to be appointed as administrator.

In an appeal against that verdict Fleet Cooke argued that he had not sought to disadvantage his brothers by taking advantage of a power of attorney role, despite their differences.

He claimed he wanted to fulfil his mother's wish that he should be her executor.

But Sir Declan pointed out that the decision to have the Official Solicitor oversee Mrs Conway's estate was based on concerns that Fleet Cooke would frustrate rather than implement the administration in accordance with the terms of the settlement.

"There is considerable evidence to support that conclusion," he said.

Dismissing the appeal, the judge held that an independent person is required for the role.

He added: "The appellant's submissions in this case continue to show a deep hostility to his brothers and give no indication that he has now accepted the outcome of the litigation which was settled on 19 June 2012.

"There is an overwhelming case that if the appellant was appointed as administrator of the estate that he would seek to re-litigate issues which have been determined against him thereby increasing cost and incurring delay in the administration of the estate."

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