An attempt by a woman to disinherit a girl of property in Kenya and Britain valued at more than Sh500 million has failed.
Court of Appeal judges Wanjiru Karanja, Asike Makhandia, Fatuma Sichale, Hellen Omondi and Imaana Laibuta ruled that Beatrice Wairimu has no right to the properties, for faking the Will of late British businessman Anthony John Thompson to disinherit his only child.
“After considering all the facts, we are satisfied that the Will in question was procured by undue influence with a view to fraudulently confer an advantage to Wairimu. There is no way the deceased could bequeath all his properties to a stranger and leave out his own child,” ruled the judges.
The dispute involved Wairimu and the family of the late Thompson over his multi-million shilling property in Nairobi and England.
According to documents in court, Thomson had come to Kenya in the 1990s and invested, including buying a 4.5-acre land in Roysambu on Thika Road.
He left the country in May 2009 and died in July 2009 at his house in France. The French authorities said they could not establish the cause of his death.
On learning of Thompson’s death, Wairimu filed a succession case claiming the Briton had bequeathed her all his foreign properties as a “friend” in his last Will, which he allegedly signed a month before his death.
But Clara Amy Cox and her mother Tina Louise opposed the application claiming Wairimu had taken advantage of her father’s mental illness to fake the Will. Cox said she was the rightful heir to her father’s estate in Kenya, and had been issued with grant of letters of administration from a court in France to inherit the properties.
Upon hearing all the parties, High Court judge Luka Kimaru found that Wairimu had forged the Will by using a fake passport number and took advantage when Thompson was ailing to claim he had bequeathed her the properties.
This is the decision Wairimu appealed against, but the Appellate judges found that she indeed was not entitled to any of the properties.
“The so called Will is a very general Will, grossly lacking in specificity and wanting in ambiguity. It does not have a schedule of property, and does not adequately describe the property. It only states that the deceased bequeathed all his foreign estate to his friend,” ruled the judges.
They upheld the findings that the deceased had a brain tumour and the fact that he died a month and few days after allegedly making the said Will raised suspicion as to whether he had mental capacity to do so.
According to the judges, they did not understand how a man could leave all his properties to a stranger on account of friendship, leaving out his own child who should be the natural inheritor.
“Even without commenting on the deceased’s mental status, the incorrect passport number cited in the Will and the description of Wairimu as the sole beneficiary; we have no hesitation in arriving at the inescapable finding that the “Will” in question did not pass the validity test,” ruled the judges.
The judges said it was not even clear what the foreign estate comprised, whether the property in Britain was also foreign and whether property that had been jointly owned by the deceased and his late sister was part of his free estate, which had been left to Wairimu.
The Appellate judges further dismissed claims by Wairimu that the High Court judge made a mistake by relying on information contained in affidavits instead of allowing the parties to call witnesses for cross-examination.