Published: 12:00, 16 February 2015
A show dog breeder left with only one of her beloved pedigree terriers after she split from her partner of more than 30 years is now suing for a stake in his £750,000 kennels business.
Pamela Curran, 57, bred expensive Airedale terriers with boyfriend Brian Collins, 54, and worked for only £50-a-week at his Mersham-based business, a court heard.
But a judge’s ruling after their 30 years as a couple ended in 2010 left her homeless and destitute – and with only one of the dogs to show for their decades together.
Now at the Court of Appeal, she is fighting for a share of Haven Boarding Kennels and Cattery in Laws Lane and the property where it operates, which was also the ex-couple’s home.
Her barrister, Sarah Crowther, claimed Miss Curran had always been led to believe by her ex that she was a business partner and joint owner – despite everything being in his name.
Otherwise she would not have worked such long hours for such little pay, she told three appeal judges.
“Mr Collins’ evidence in relation to financial affairs is not to be trusted, because he manipulates and seeks to deceive,” she told the court.
“This lady, who was accepted by the judge to have been vulnerable, has been left effectively with nothing.”
The Haven was purchased for £750,000 in 2007 in Mr Collins’ sole name, but Miss Curran claims they intended to be joint owners.
It was partially funded with the proceeds of sale of their then home in west London, which their 11 Airedales had outgrown.
“She worked in the kennels full-time, often from 7am until 10pm,” her barrister said.
Her duties included cleaning, tending to the dogs, paperwork and looking after the couple’s own terriers – one litter of which could earn them more than £20,000.
Together since they were teenagers around 1977, the troubled relationship ended in 2010.
“Mr Collins’ evidence in relation to financial affairs is not to be trusted, because he manipulates and seeks to deceive." - Barrister Sarah Crowther
In a devastating county court ruling by Judge Hazel Marshall two years later, Miss Curran was told she had no right to a share of the business or the family home.
She was left with just one of the terriers and is now homeless, staying with friends, with her belongings in storage.
Appealing, Miss Crowther said that ruling was wrong.
Miss Curran acted ‘to her detriment’ by working long hours in a business she was led to believe she had an interest in, but was ultimately deprived of.
Contesting the appeal on Mr Collins’ behalf, barrister Don McCue argued the original ruling should be upheld.
Mr Collins’ was the only name on the title deeds to The Haven because he was always going to be the sole owner, while she was never meant to be a business partner.
Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Lewison and Lord Justice Davis reserved their decision on the appeal until a later date.
The court heard the case has already cost Mr Collins £100,000 in legal bills.