A father blew his last chance to do the right thing for his daughters when he left them out of his will, a BC Supreme Court judge said.
Ronald Maurice Poole abandoned his daughters twice — once after birth and again after losing a bitter custody hearing, Justice Gary Weatherill wrote in a decision, released last week following a hearing in Kelowna Supreme Court.
Courtney Jung and Chelsea Backous, 34-year-old twins, applied to the court to vary the will in which Poole, who died in Surrey in 2017, left his entire $900,000 estate to friends
“He failed in his last opportunity to behave like a judicious father and recognize in the Second Will his moral obligations to the Twins,” Weatherill wrote.
“The fact that he made it so clear … that the Twins were illegitimate, that he wanted no part of his estate to go to them, and instructed his executors to fight any attempt by them to vary his will, speaks volumes about his attitude towards them and his misguided and ill-conceived attempt to punish them for matters beyond their control.”
Court heard that the twins were born in 1986 to Celine LeBlanc, 23, who was in a relationship with Poole.
“Celine raised the Twins as a single mother without any involvement or financial assistance from the Deceased,” Weatherill wrote.
Celine died in Hay River, NWT, of pneumonia complications when the twins were four. Her will stated she wanted friends Bill and Gloria Fandricks to become the guardians.
Celine’s mother, Dianna Coull, also sought custody, with Poole’s support.
Poole “advised the Court that he was keenly and genuinely interested in the Twins and wanted to be involved in raising them.”
The court awarded custody to the Fandricks with generous visiting rights to Poole and Coull, who were also to be consulted on major decisions involving the girls.
“Following receipt of the Noonan Order, the Deceased essentially dropped out of the Twins’ lives and disappeared. Despite never being prevented by the Fandricks from seeing the Twins, he did not exercise any of the parenting time that was granted. Nor did he ever provide any financial assistance to the Fandricks.”
Poole wrote two wills that specifically insisted the girls not get any of estate and instructed his executors to fight any attempt by them to contest the will.
Court heard Chelsey Backous works at a car dealership and owns a house with her husband. She suffers from a debilitating medical condition known as Myasthenia gravis — a neuromuscular disease.
Courtney Jung is a primary school teacher and foster mother in Whitehorse.
“I conclude that the Deceased’s … decision to ignore the Twins was driven by bitterness and ‘sour grapes’ in losing the Custody Trial. Instead of blaming himself for four years of abdicating his responsibilities as the Twins’ father and instead of following through with his statements to Justice Noonan that he wanted to be a part of the Twins’ lives as their father, he blamed the Twins for the estrangement. The Deceased’s views of the matter were neither valid nor rational,” Weatherill wrote.
The judge awarded 35% of the estate to each daughter and 15% to each of Poole’s friends.