Gay claim in $3.5m will row
A SUNSHINE Coast widower will receive most of his late wife's multi-million dollar estate after a legal battle in which his step son claimed he was gay.
Flaxton man Richard Cranbrook, now 69, married his terminally ill neighbour Janet Helmrich in March, 2009.
The hinterland couple had shared a close relationship for three years prior to their wedding.
The 71-year-old bride, who had property assets worth $3.5 million, was “head over heels in love” with Mr Cranbrook.
However, both knew as they exchanged their vows their life life together was expected to be short.
The mother-of-two had inoperable pancreatic cancer.
Six months after her wedding day the new Mrs Cranbrook died.
In October 2009, a month after his mother's death, son John Musso contested his mother's will.
The mother-of-two had left the majority of her fortune to her new husband.
Mr Musso had previously been the primary beneficiary in a draft of her will when Mrs Cranbrook learned of having cancer in October, 2008.
Mrs Cranbrook never finalised the draft.
On her deathbed, Mrs Cranbrook removed her son from the will while in hospital in June, 2009.
He was also replaced as executor of Mrs Cranbrook's will by her solicitor.
The Brisbane Supreme Court heard in November last year Mrs Cranbrook told the new executor of her estate that “the behaviour of Mr Musso and his wife at the wedding was insulting and dismissive of her decision to marry”.
Mrs Cranbrook and her son did not see each other for six months after the wedding.
In Supreme Court documents made available yesterday, Mr Musso made a variety of shocking claims including his new step-father was a “homosexual”.
He also claimed his mother was not of sound mind, at least partly due to pain medication administered by Mr Cranbrook.
Mr Musso said his mother's decision to disentitle him “demonstrated her poor judgment and lack of insight at the time”.
He told the court Mrs Cranbrook's “infatuation” with her former neighbour allowed her to be manipulated.
“She was weak and frail and was taking pain medication, occasionally administered by Mr Cranbrook,” the son claimed.
“Because of Mr Cranbrook's alleged homosexuality there was no sexual basis for the marriage, making it an unusual marriage."
Mr Cranbrook denied the allegation at the hearing through his solicitor “without objection”.
Justice Glenn Martin struck out Mr Musso's claim of his stepfather's sexuality.
Justice Martin said he found the new bride “demonstrated a strength of mind in her daily behaviour which is inconsistent with the case of the respondent (Mr Musso)”.
“Her actions obviously disappointed her children but there is insufficient evidence to support the contention that she was not acting in accordance with her wishes.”
Mrs Cranbrook's will orders that her children shall receive one sixth of the residual estate left behind on the death of their step-father.
Mr Cranbrook declined to comment “on legal advice” when contacted by the Daily yesterday.