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Stepson wins father and a farm

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The entrance to the farm once owned by the late Michael Hoare in Co Tipperary

The entrance to the farm once owned by the late Michael Hoare in Co Tipperary

The entrance to the farm once owned by the late Michael Hoare in Co Tipperary

A 57-year-old will inherit the farm of a man he called stepfather all his life but who was actually his biological father -- a fact he only learned after his death.

The High Court has ruled that William Naylor (57) is entitled to the 120-acre farm that belonged to the late Michael Hoare, even though Mr Hoare left it to his daughter, Mr Naylor's sister.

Last night, Mr Naylor's family told the Irish Independent that he had gone away for a few days after winning the lengthy legal battle over the farm at Walshpark, Co Tipperary.

Nobody at Mr Naylor's home wished to comment on the case last night.

Mr Naylor had sued his sister, Jean Maher, after the will, read after Mr Hoare's death at the age of 82, revealed that he had left the farm to Jean, who nursed him in the years before his death.

Mr Naylor claimed that he was repeatedly promised the farm by Mr Hoare as far back as the 1970s and had worked it for almost 40 years for a minimal return.

A previous will had been made out by the deceased stating the land would go to Mr Naylor.

In a lengthy judgment, Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe ruled that Mr Naylor of Lelagh, Rathcabbin, Derrylahan, Co Tipperary, but originally from Birr in Co Offaly, had established a legal claim.

He said he was entitled to the farm as he worked it for "minimal remuneration" and he had been promised it.

Undue

But the judge said that Mr Naylor had "failed to establish" that the will of Mr Hoare, who allegedly suffered from a number of physical and mental health conditions, was procured by duress and undue influence by Mrs Maher (58), of The Crescent, Townsend Street, Birr, Co Offaly.

Speaking through his solicitor Cahir O'Higgins, Mr Naylor declined to make any comment. However, Mr O'Higgins said that the case, which lasted several weeks in the High Court, had been "a difficult matter for all involved".

Mr Justice O'Keeffe said Mr Naylor returned from Dublin in the early 1970s to work the farm "at the expressed wishes" of Mr Hoare.

The Judge said he was satisfied Mr Hoare promised Mr Naylor on a number of occasions that he would leave him the farm. The Judge also accepted the evidence of other witnesses that Mr Hoare had promised Mr Naylor the land.

That commitment was "life-long", the judge said.

Mr Naylor had worked the lands to his detriment, the judge added.

The court heard that Mr Hoare, who married Mr Naylor's mother Eileen in the 1980s, was Mr Naylor's biological father.

The issue of costs of the action was adjourned.

Irish Independent