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Partner bids for a bigger portion of marine's will.

A BITTER row has erupted between loved ones of a Royal Marine killed in action over his pounds 300,000 will.

Sgt John Manuel was killed in Afghanistan in 2008 when a 13-year-old suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed wheelbarrow in Afghanistan.

But two years after the marine's death, his family are locked in a legal battle with his partner Rachel Douglas.

Weeks before his final tour, Sgt Manuel told his brother Trevor, 35, a Northern Rail engineer from Newcastle, to give Ms Douglas a pounds 10,000 package if he died.

But the 36-year-old council worker claims she is entitled to a bigger piece of Sgt Manuel's estate, which was valued at more than pounds 300,000, and has taken the matter to Sunderland County Court.

A will made by Sgt Manuel in April 2002 left his entire estate to his mother Pauline, 62, and named Trevor executor.

But Ms Douglas claims that in the years following 2002, a loving relationship blossomed as she and Sgt Manuel set up home together.

She said that in December 2002 they moved into a one-bedroom flat in Ouston, Chester-le-Street, before switching to a bigger two-bedroom home in nearby Milbanke Street in January 2007.

However, the court heard she was never officially registered at the address she claimed to have shared with Sgt Manuel.

She was never listed on the electoral roll and did not pay council tax at either of the houses, while bank accounts, gym memberships and doctors' notes were all sent to her parents' home in Langdon Road, Westerhope, Newcastle.

Solicitor Robin Horner, for Ms Douglas, said: "This is not a case where my client received money from the deceased.

"The parties kept separate bank accounts, but she herself made contributions to this household." In the last 12 months, the court heard, Ms Douglas has run up debts of thousands as she "pre-empted" the court case.

The court was told Sgt Manuel had tried to end their "rocky" six-year relationship, but each time Ms Douglas would "cry and beg" to be taken back.

The marine was also said to be seeing other women.

The case continues.

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WILL John Manuel died in 2008
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 27, 2011
Words:363
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