Saturday 27 December 2014

Widow flies back to US after will talks collapse

Published 03/03/2014 | 02:30

Martin McCarthy and wife Rebecca and daughter Clarissa
Martin McCarthy with wife Rebecca and daughter Clarissa

A HEARTBROKEN young mother whose husband drowned himself and their three-year-old daughter has flown back to the US after failing to reach a settlement over his disputed will.

Rebecca McCarthy (26) flew back to Los Angeles on Friday after staying in west Cork for a week following the inquest into her husband and daughter's deaths in a bid to reach a compromise over the will. Her husband, Martin McCarthy, changed it a week before his death.

The new document replaced a previous will he had made 14 years earlier and prior to his marriage to Ms McCarthy.

Under the 2013 will, he split his estate between six named parties one of whom was his wife. However, she has argued that she was effectively denied her proper share of her husband's estate, in particular major assets such as farmland.

One of the other five parties has since indicated they will decline any bequest under the terms of Mr McCarthy's new will. The other four parties have been taking legal advice given the looming High Court case.

Ms McCarthy's action over her effective exclusion from inheriting major property assets is now scheduled to be heard in the High Court in April.

COMPROMISE

The Irish Independent has learned that the settlement talks – which Ms McCarthy stayed in Ireland for a week to progress – ultimately failed after one party refused to compromise.

A friend of the young American woman said she is so traumatised she may never again return to Ireland.

"It has been a devastating week for her. She had been dreading the inquests for a year but in her wildest nightmares she hadn't expected what happened," one friend said.

"Rebecca stayed on in Ireland for a week in the hope that a settlement over the will could be agreed. She is absolutely heartbroken that it looks now as if a High Court case cannot be avoided."

Ms McCarthy fled in tears from a Bantry coroner's inquest two weeks ago into the death of her husband, Martin (50), and her only child, Clarissa (3), in March 2013. The bodies were found 200 metres apart in shallow waters near a beach on Mr McCarthy's farm.

Ms McCarthy's family had clashed with friends of Mr McCarthy after they loudly objected to any suggestion in the inquest verdicts that the farmer restrained or held his daughter in the sea.

One friend of Mr McCarthy effectively suggested Clarissa's death was an accident. Two other friends insisted that pathology evidence did not support any verdict which indicated the father restrained his daughter.

Ms McCarthy became so upset during the loud exchanges that she briefly fled the hearing.

Her family, visibly appalled by what was said, replied to the friends: "He killed her," and "if he were still alive he would be charged with murder."

NOTE

Mr McCarthy had left a suicide note in the milking parlour of his isolated farm at Audley Cove, outside Ballydehob.

The couple first met when Rebecca was a 16-year-old student at Schull Community School a decade ago. They met after he helped her with a transition year project she was doing on farming and rural Ireland. There was a 24 year age gap between them.

They married in 2006 when Rebecca was 19 with Clarissa being born three years ago.

Irish Independent

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