The family of a lonely old man who left his entire fortune to a builder who cleaned his gutters for free are disputing the will in the High Court.
When Ronald Butcher, 75, died he left his entire and substantial life savings to builder and friend Daniel Sharp, 45.
Giving evidence at the High Court, Sharp reflected on how he and Mr. Butcher shared a joint interest in D.I.Y and how he never charged the pensioner for clearing out his gutters because it was a “nothing job.”
“When I first cleaned out his gutter he offered me a tenner or 20 quid for it, but I said no, I wouldn’t take it. It was a nothing job that took seconds.”
Mr. Sharp admits he was shocked to be left such a vast amount of money ($77,070), but thinks it only happened because Mr. Butcher must have had a falling out with his family and he was the only one who went around to talk to the old man.
“I was shocked to be given something like that. It’s life-changing. I didn’t think he had people to give it to, or obviously they had had an argument. ‘Something happened and he gave it to me. I can’t say the reason why he gave it to me.
“But if I’m the only one who went round to talk to him… I didn’t know what’s gone on with the others. Obviously there’s been a big falling out.”
The Daily Mail reports that Mr. Butcher’s family are disputing the will because it does not reflect their relative’s “true last wish.”
The body of Mr. Butcher was found in his house in Enfield, North London. He had died in March last year but his body was not found until two months later.
Mr. Butcher’s remaining “family” include include his elderly cousin Joyce Gilkerson and the children of a close schoolfriend – Evelyn Hutchins, 53, and Peter Rogers, 57 – who regarded him as their “Uncle Ron.”
In Mr. Butcher’s previous will, dated December 2011, the three were equal beneficiaries, and they are asking Judge Leslie Anderson QC to revoke his final will and revert to the previous one.
A legal representative for Mr. Butcher’s “family” suggested that Mr. Sharp, who failed to attend Mr. Butcher’s funeral, needed to clarify why Mr. Butcher had suddenly left him everything because it was so seemingly odd.
“In six years he gave you nothing, not even a birthday card, then suddenly he has given you everything he’s got when he’s gone. That is unreal. It needs to be explained because it is so odd.”
Mr. Sharp reacted angrily to the comments which appeared to portray him as some sort of “horrible person.”
“What sort of person do you think I am? I do a lot of things for charity and help people out, and you are making me out to be some sort of horrible person.”
When asked why he had not attended the funeral of the deceased, Mr. Sharp replied that it was on the advice of his solicitor and added he was a true friend of Mr. Butcher.
“I class a friend as somebody who talks to people. His friends and family hadn’t spoken to him in months. At least I was going round whenever I was in the area. We were not good friends, just friends. I never said I was his best mate.”
Mr. Rogers’ queried Mr. Sharp’s account and said it doesn’t add up.
“My uncle had lots of friends and still came to family parties. He and Mr. Sharp had nothing in common. It just doesn’t add up. He would tell us about what was going on in his life and Mr. Sharp never, ever came up.”
The hearing continues.
(Image Courtesy of Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)