The ex-wife of a British soldier wounded in Afghanistan has been told she is not entitled to most of his remaining compensation money.
Simon Vaughan was a lance corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The 31 year-old suffered serious brain damage in 2008 when the Taliban blew up a vehicle he was travelling in. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded him over £1 million pounds to fund his long-term care.
However, the money was paid into a joint account that he shared with his wife. She used it to buy a bungalow for £295,000 without getting a survey first. Due to structural problems, the house then had to be demolished and rebuilt at an additional cost of £300,000.
With only £200,000 of the compensation money remaining, Mrs Vaughan then sought £185,000 in the couple’s divorce. She also wanted a share of the rebuilt bungalow, which her former husband shared with his mother.
District Judge Richard Chapman criticised Mrs Vaughan’s financial decisions which, he said, “both in hindsight and at the time, she should not have made”. He also claimed she had failed “to provide full and truthful information” to officials from the MoD about what she was planning and had refused their help in managing the money.
The judge ruled that she was only entitled to £10,000 in the divorce settlement but ordered Mr Vaughan to pay her legal fees of £85,000. Judge Chapman also ordered the former soldier to pay off a £30,000 mortgage on a second property which his ex-wife would then own.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Vaughan said the judge’s decision was “as good as it can be given the law” but that he was still in “worrying position where [his] future is concerned”.
His 53 year-old mother is now his full-time carer. Speaking to The Telegraph, she said that the MoD “should have automatically put trustees in place” when they made the compensation award. This would have prevented Mrs Vaughan from making decisions by herself.
The MoD “failed [Mr Vaughan] when they put that money in a joint account when they knew with his injuries he couldn’t deal with that money”, his mother insisted.
Photo courtesy of Part of 3rd (UK) Division – The British Army via Flickr