Squabbling siblings come to blows over father’s estate during court battle

A brother and sister who have a combined age of 141 came to blows over their deceased father’s £2 million estate estate, the High Court was told.

Fay Elizabeth Crabbe, 74 and Edward Lindsay Townsend, 67, have been contesting their fathers fortune since he died in November 2004, leaving behind a house and a caravan park in Oxfordshire as well as two plots of land and shares worth £1.1 million.

Edward Townsend says his older sister hit him “across the face” at their childhood home after they met to discuss the division of their father’s fortune.

The court was told the estate was divided roughly equally between the two, but couldn’t agree on the ownership of the two separate plots of land, particularly clashing over a two and a half acre tract in Dorchester on Thames worth £135,000.

They also rowed bitterly over who was going to pay the £396,000 inheritance tax bill, falling out so badly that their father’s estate remains in legal limbo even now.

Mr Townsend told the court he was unhappy about meeting Mrs Crabbe in person to sort out which of them should get what.

He told Judge John martin QC: “The reason I don’t meet with my sister is because, on one occasion at Bridge Villa, she slapped my face and I vowed I’d never be put in that position again,”

The share portfolio was still in the estate at the time of the 2007/2008 financial crash and, as a result, lost about half its value. The portfolio’s worth dipped from £1.1 million in 2004 to just £577,000 in September 2009.

When the hearing adjourned, cautious lawyers formed a barrier between the pair to prevent them coming face to face. Outside court, Mr Townsend said: “This has been hanging over us for almost 12 years and it’s still not been settled. It’s a nightmare.”

The hearing continues.

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