Ambridge rejoices at family court ruling
After walking free from Borchester Crown Court last week (see our special report here) there was joy for Helen Titchener of Bridge Farm on Friday, as the family court ruled that she should have custody of her sons Henry and Jack.
Judge Loomis, who had also presided over Mrs Titchener’s trial for attempted murder, said he was satisfied that petitioner Rob Titchener posed a risk of harm to his stepson and son.
In a shock move, the judge banned him from any contact with Henry, and ruled that visits with Jack should be supervised, pending a psychiatric assessment.
Mr Titchener, who shouted out ‘No, it can’t be!’ in court as the ruling was given, said he was ‘devastated’. ‘I still can’t understand what I’ve done to deserve this,’ he said. ‘What is wrong with everybody?’
Tony Archer, Helen Titchener’s father, said he was proud of his ‘beautiful, brave daughter’. ‘We’ve been through so much as a family, but now we can begin to look forward again,’ he said. ‘I just need to sponge my slacks first. In all the excitement, Kirsty and Tom were larking about and spilt coffee on them, and it might stain. Anyone got a wet wipe?’
False alarm at Grange Farm
An ambulance was called to Grange Farm on Thursday, where an elderly man was feared to be having a heart attack. Joe Grundy, 94, collapsed during a family celebration, prompting his daughter-in-law Clarrie to call 999. ‘Our landlord Oliver Sterling had just told us we could stay on at Grange Farm and Joe were that excited, he started doing a jig in the kitchen with a ferret on his head,’ she said. ‘Then suddenly he went all pale and fell over. We was ever so worried, but the paramedics said his blood sugar were low. Not surprised, he’s been off his food so long, fretting about having to leave his home.’
Mr Grundy was treated at the scene and has now made a full recovery.
New series: Rough justice!
He’s heard it all before and tells it like it is: dare you put your legal questions to our man at the Bar?
Q I was recently involved in a court case and am appalled at the way the press has treated me. They are dragging my reputation through the mud with headlines like ‘Serial abuser posed as Mr Nice Guy’ and ‘Husband’s cruel jibes led to stabbing horror’. Can I sue these miserable hacks for libel? OutragedRob, Ambridge.
A As the press reports appeared as a contemporaneous record of a court case, and as the jury concluded that the accusations were true, any libel claim is unlikely to succeed. In other words, suck it up, loser.
Q The family court has decided that my son can no longer see his stepson at all, and is only allowed supervised visits with his baby son. Where does this judgement leave me as the baby’s paternal grandmother? GrannyUrsula, Hampshire.
A Very often one has sympathy for grandparents, who have far fewer rights in the family court than a child’s parents. But not in this case. I read the court reports. You’re a nasty piece of work who doesn’t deserve grandchildren and you only have yourself to blame.
Q I leased part of my farm to two brothers so they could set up a poultry business. One of the brothers is OK but the other is a waste of space, and I’ve just found out he and my daughter are ‘an item’. Can I evict them? DisturbedDad, Brookfield.
A Having reviewed the contract you sent me, I’m afraid I can’t find a clause prohibiting the tenants from having sexual relations with any member of the landlord’s family. So if I were you I’d be grateful that the decent brother hasn’t made a pass at your wife. And I assume you’re getting plenty of free eggs?
Q I feel sorry for the tenants in our farmhouse and have decided to let them stay on at a reduced rent. My wife Caroline says this is financial suicide and we should evict them, sell up and buy a massive palazzo in Tuscany. Who is right? SoftheartedOliver, Grey Gables.
A Your wife is right. These tenants will probably burn the farmhouse down or fill it with livestock, making the asset worthless. But when you are forced to sell up in Italy and come back to work as cleaners in the hotel you once owned, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that you are much nicer than she is.
SUMMER FICTION SPECIAL
The Trials of… Kirsty Miller
In the concluding chapter of our summer saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine is caught up in a maelstrom of powerful and conflicting passions…
‘How’s it going?’ Tom’s voice woke Kirsty from her reverie. In the warmth of the polytunnel, she was thinking of Helen, home at last, waiting to be reunited with Henry, and rocking baby Jack in his Moses basket. Despite everything her friend had been through, she looked blissfully happy – a happiness that Kirsty could only imagine… ‘Fine!’ she said to Tom brightly. ‘You’ve got a bumper crop of tomatoes here!’ She held out her basket. He reached in to fondle the firm, round fruit. ‘They’re beauties!’ he said appreciatively. Oh Lord, why was she blushing? ‘Glad to be of use,’ she said brusquely, to hide her confusion. ‘I just came to say…’ ‘What, Tom?’ ‘Just to say, um – stay for lunch Kirsty! I’d like you to stay – I mean, Helen would like it… if you could just finish picking this row first, OK?’ ‘Sure, no problem!’ Same old Tom Archer. Always putting business first. It was just as well he dumped you, she told herself, wrenching an unripe tomato off its stalk…
‘To Helen!’ Kirsty raised her glass of ‘Old Otto’ vintage cider, saved by Tony for this special occasion, and joined in the family toast. Looking at their beaming faces round the table, she felt a pang of bitter-sweet pain. Was it Pat’s root vegetable bake, or a poignant reminder that she had so nearly been an Archer herself? She blinked away a tear; Helen was speaking to her. ‘And to you Kirsty – you literally saved my life,’ her friend said, her voice brimming with emotion. ‘All I want to do now is spend time at home with you, my loved ones, and my children.’
‘Hear hear!’ said Tom. His eyes met Kirsty’s across the cheeseboard. Something inside her melted like week-old Borsetshire Blue as she returned his gaze. Furious with herself, she looked away.
‘Mummy, can I have a drink too?’ Henry piped up from the sofa. ‘Granny Ursula gave me gin so I’d go to sleep!’ ‘Oh, darling!’ Kirsty could tell Helen didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She told herself not to be so selfish. This family still had so much to deal with; there’d be no time for her foolish dreams of what might have been…
‘So, here we are then.’ Tom switched off the car engine outside Willow Farm, and turned towards her. ‘Thanks for the lift, Tom – it’s been quite a week.’ His face was very close to hers. ‘You’ve been so good to Helen, Kirsty – to all of us,’ he said. ‘Oh no, anyone would have done the same,’ she blustered, struggling with her seatbelt, her fingers suddenly clumsy. Gently, Tom closed his hand over hers. ‘I – I don’t want you to go,’ he murmured urgently. ‘Does that make sense?’ ‘I think so…’ What was happening? He was kissing her, and she was kissing him back. What was she doing? This man had jilted her at the altar; humiliated her; broken her heart! ‘I’m not – I’m not falling for you again Tom!’ she managed to say, as he kissed her again. And suddenly they were both swept away by the passion of the moment, on a glorious tide that led them into the cottage, past an astonished Roy, who was eating pizza and watching First Dates on catch-up, and upstairs into Kirsty’s room…
To be continued…