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Home / Latest News / Man spared jail after destroying his brother’s house with a sledgehammer in inheritance dispute

Man spared jail after destroying his brother’s house with a sledgehammer in inheritance dispute

A bitter man stole his brother’s inheritance when he destroyed a house left by their father, a court heard today.

Tony McGuire, 50, admitted taking a sledgehammer to the £300,000 home on Manor Way, Cardiff, demolishing an extension he had built, when his bid to overturn his Indian-born father’s will failed.

He deliberately caused £126,000 worth of damage and there is no family money left to repair it, said crown prosecutor Jason Howells.

At Cardiff Crown Court this morning where he was given a two-year suspended jail sentence with 300 hours unpaid community work, a judge told McGuire it had all been about getting even with his brother Terry who had been left that and other properties.

“It was done out of appalling spite to ensure he could not enjoy his legacy,” Judge Phillip Richards said.

“It was a crime committed against members of your own family out of bitterness and resentment.”

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The court heard McGuire, a hard-working council electrician and a father of six who has fostered other children and a charity worker was a good man who had committed an act of very considerable evil.

For 15 years, it was said, he believed he would be the one to inherit the large semi-detached house north of the city but shortly before his father Alan McGuire died in 2005, his will was changed.

The Manor Way house became one of several in the area which were left to another son, Terry McGuire who lives in London.

Mr Howells said: “After the death, Terry McGuire honoured an agreement to allow his father’s partner Linda Cann to live there but he found this defendant had evicted her, had moved in himself and was building the extension.

“There was a civil case in which the will was contested but in 2009, a court found in favour of Terry as being the legal owner.”

Mr Howells said the brother tried but failed to reach an amicable agreement with the defendant and in May 2012, an eviction notice was served on him. That was postponed when one of his six children was seriously injured in a road accident but was later reinstated.

Terry McGuire was then informed by Cardiff council that his property had been damaged and was structurally unsound.

In fact, the crown court heard today, police had arrived while McGuire was damaging the property in January this year but took no action because of the confusion over ownership.

Tony McGuire at Cardiff Crown Court this morning
Tony McGuire at Cardiff Crown Court this morning


“When Terry McGuire came from London, he found the whole of the back of the house had been demolished,” Mr Howells said.

“He now says he cannot afford to repair it because he has used up his savings in court proceedings.

“A chartered surveyor has estimated the repair will costs £126,000.”

When McGuire was arrested in February, he told police he believed the will had been created fraudulently and said he could not accept the decision of the county court.

Defence barrister Eugene Egan said not only did McGuire have no previous convictions of any kind, he was actually a man of “positive good character” who had been under tremendous strain at the time of the admitted criminal damage because of the original, bleak prognosis from doctors treating his son following the accident.

The child has since made a recovery but still has regular hospital visits.

McGuire’s wife was said to be registered blind and of his three children aged between 33 and 6, three were still dependant on him.

At work, as a time-served electrician, he is responsible for helping train apprentices and entrusted to work on schools, community centres and care homes.

“His immediate family, given his wife’s difficulties would be unable to function properly if he is locked up,” Mr Egan told the judge.

“He has built up, over his 50 years, a significant store of good credit. He never expected to have to call on it but he is entitled to call on it now.

“He lost focus in his judgement.

“When there is a falling out, families can sometimes be worse than others outside.

“He thought he had a moral right to do what he did but that is no lawful authority or excuse.

“He took down the extension he had paid for and largely built himself because he regarded the change to his father’s will as unfair.

“For 15 years he believed he would inherit the house and he invested both time and money into it.

“In June this year he was declared bankrupt in the sum of £300,000. He is still working hard but the official receiver is now the master of his wallet.

“Jailing him will punish others who are utterly blameless.”

Judge Richards said he was suspending  McGuire’s prison sentence because of his innocent family who would be “thrown on the mercies of the state” if he could not provide for them.

He went on: “On the other hand an appalling loss has befallen your bother and I have nothing but sympathy for his position and the position of your sister as well.

“Immense pain has been caused by your determination to get even.

“This was your brother’s house and although you are not charged with theft, you effectively stole it from him.”

McGuire, who now lives with his family at Bridge Road, Llandaff North, pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this month.

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