Jobyna Watts won her Supreme Court battle against her son
A former West End cabaret star has won an inheritance battle in High Court against his son. Jobyna Watts, 92, had been accused by her son Carlton Watts of forging, or having another person forge for her, her late husband’s will. Ms Watts, a former “Windmill Girl”, inherited the estate of musician and businessman Eustace Watts upon his death in 2008.
His 64-year-old son, however, received nothing from his father’s will.
Mr Watts took his mother to court claiming that she had “defrauded” his father’s estate, which he values at approximately £8 million, a sum which Mrs Watts disputed.
However, after a trial in the Superior Court of LondonChief Justice Julia Clark upheld Mr Watts’s will and cleared his widow of the charge of forgery.
The former cabaret star’s son, the judge said, had formed a “fixed belief” that he had been conned by his mother, whom he even reported to the police.
She said: “My assessment of Carlton’s evidence is that he is in the fixed belief that his mother has dishonestly and unfairly deprived him of his right to his father’s inheritance, and that this has colored and distorted his view of the issues of fact relevant to this case.
Jobyna Watts is a former cabaret star
“For this reason, I do not consider him a credible witness and only accept his testimony when supported by independent contemporary documentation.”
The will, the judge added, had been validly signed by Watts’s father.
Crucial evidence in the case was provided by the lawyer for the late Watts, Sarah Evans, who told the court that she remembered that her client had signed the will.
The judge said: “Ms. Evans recalled that the decedent’s instructions were clear and consistent: she wanted Ms. Watts, as her surviving spouse, to be the sole beneficiary of her estate and she did not want Carlton to inherit anything if Ms. Watts survived him.
“I accept Ms. Evans’ evidence that she remembers the deceased because he was a long-standing client of the firm, whom she had seen on many occasions in the firm’s waiting room, and whose affairs she was aware of. so much from conversations with his colleagues. and a memorable character.”
Watts had claimed that the will dating from 2000 invalidated his father’s true intention for his son to get a third of his wealth.
Mr Watts had claimed an earlier will from 1994, in which the former musician’s wealth was divided equally between him, his mother and his brother Fraser Watts, was the last true will of the late Mr Watts.
But the musician’s widow insisted that the most recent document was her husband’s “true last will” and also claimed that she owns her husband’s assets in any case, since they held his fortune jointly.
The lawyer representing the son of Mr and Mrs Watts, Justin Holmes, questioned the authenticity of the signatures present on the 2000 will and highlighted evidence from a forensic expert who raised concerns regarding “pen pressure ” of several signatures on the will, which they claimed were strikingly similar.
It was claimed that the “letter formation angle” in the late Mr. Watts’s signature was also remarkably similar to Mrs. Watts’s signature, as it was alleged that the disputed will may have been created by “tracing” the signatures of another Watts family will prepared in 2000.
However, Master Clark said he preferred the evidence presented by Ms Watt’s handwriting expert, who described the forgery allegations against her as “misguided and unsafe”.
Defending Watts, attorney Matthew Tonnard said the claims raised by the former Windmill Girl’s son were motivated by “animosity and spite”.
He told the judge, “This is not how you should spend your golden years.”
Ms Watts became an established dancer at the Windmill Theater in London’s West End following Second World War.
Her dance routine, which included tambourine and tap, made her an acclaimed figure on the stage.
Her romance with musician-singer-songwriter Watts became intertwined with her work, as they formed a double act known as “Ricardo and Jobyna”, with Watts taking the stage name Peter Ricardo.
The couple married in 1955, eventually settling in Hounslow, West London.
Watts rose to fame despite being orphaned as a child in Granada.
His love of music was probably influenced by the English judge who adopted Mr. Watts and taught him to read music, as well as play the piano and guitar.
In 1957, after forming a calypso band and writing his own music, Watts released the album Hi-fi Calypso.
In the 1960s, he left his music career behind and went into business, deciding to run a hotel and amass a portfolio of residential and commercial properties in West London.
The musician and real estate businessman died at age 92 in April 2008, having suffered from cancer and dementia in his later years.