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27 July 2015

Wife who made £2m home into 'fortress' after divorce is told to 'move on' by judge

A wife who turned her £2 million home into a “fortress” after her husband divorced her has been ordered to “move on” by an Appeal Court judge, reports The Evening Standard.

Therese St Clair Marshall, 43, refused to leave the house in Bayswater after her millionaire sales director husband, Nicholas Marshall, ended their seven-year marriage and moved in with his parents.

He filed divorce papers and she was ordered to leave their townhouse so it could be sold and the proceeds split.

She was promised a “generous” £650,000 share of the marital wealth by a county court judge, but refused to leave the property, the court heard.

Mrs Marshall locked her ex-husband out of the house, refused to give keys to him or his lawyers, and “dared a judge to jail her”, Lord Justice MacFarlane was told.

She also refused entry to estate agents and resisted bailiffs sent to arrest her — one of whom was “injured by a concrete bird feeder falling on his head from a top floor window”.

The court heard that the couple had started living together in 2004, but  separated in 2012 when Mr Marshall went back to live with his parents near Harrogate. The divorce was finalised a year later and, in December 2013, a county court judge awarded Mrs Marshall a £650,000 payout.

Judge Helen Wood ordered that the Bayswater house be sold and the cash divided so that the pair could achieve a “clean break”. But Mrs Marshall defied orders to give keys to her ex-husband and estate agents and allow access for valuers. As a result she was found to be in contempt of court. Last November her arrest was ordered and bailiffs were sent to her door.

With a seven-day prison sentence hanging over her, Mrs Marshall argued in the Appeal Court that she had been wrongly ordered to leave her home.

She also challenged an order that she must pay £75,000 in legal bills out of her share of the marital assets.

She told the court: “It is impossible [for me to move out] — you are going to throw me out on the street. The order is dishonest. I have nowhere to go ... it has been obvious from the start that this was
about punishing me in some way.”

Ann Hussey QC, for Mr Marshall, said: “Mrs Marshall admits to game-playing and this court should not indulge her further. Mr Marshall has continued to meet the mortgage and outgoings on the property. This has caused inevitable financial strain. The former matrimonial home should have been sold by now and both parties re-housed and launched on a new life.”

Lord Justice MacFarlane said Mrs Marshall had “plainly done everything in her power” to delay the sale of her home.

He said: “This simple, straightforward order, harsh though it may be to her, must be enforced, for the court’s orders to be respected and, frankly, for this couple to move on.

“I know how important these matters are for the wife in terms of her losing her house and, potentially, her liberty.

“But I have decided against her at every turn. It is absolutely plain that there is no merit at all in any of the appeals that she seeks to bring.”

The judge also ordered her to pay £5,000 towards the costs of the appeal, bringing her total legal bill to £80,000.

Outside court, Mr Marshall agreed his ex-wife had turned their former home into a “fortress”. But he added: “She’s going to have to get out now.”