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Ex wife of Cairns judge Brian Harrison loses bid for slice of $6million estate

The ex-wife of a district court judge will not receive a cent from her former partner’s $6million estate while his third wife and widow will receive the bulk of it.    

Therese Ryan attempted to claim $2.36million from Brian Harrison’s estate following the death of the Cairns District Court judge in October last year.

Ms Ryan had been divorced from Mr Harrison since 1993 and said she suffered from anxiety and depression after she claimed her former partner was ‘violent’ and possessive. 

She has been living on a disability support pension and claimed Mr Harrison had a ‘strong moral obligation’ to support her, Courier Mail reported. 

However Justice Glenn Martin ruled that Ms Ryan should not be considered a ‘spouse’.

He said the bulk of the estate would instead go to Mr Harrison’s former carer and housekeeper Rampai Harrison – who he married in 2018.

Instead, Ms Ryan has been ordered to cover the estate’s costs of the proceedings. 

The ex-wife of a district court judge will not receive a cent from her former partner's $6million estate while his third wife and widow will receive the bulk of it. Pictured: Therese Ryan with Brian Harrison

The ex-wife of a district court judge will not receive a cent from her former partner’s $6million estate while his third wife and widow will receive the bulk of it. Pictured: Therese Ryan with Brian Harrison

Therese Ryan attempted to claim $2.36million from Brian Harrison's (pictured) estate following the death of the Cairns District Court judge in October last year

Therese Ryan attempted to claim $2.36million from Brian Harrison’s (pictured) estate following the death of the Cairns District Court judge in October last year 

The decision comes after the Queen’s Counsel for the estate Rebecca Treston told the court in August that Ms Ryan was not entitled to any provision from the state as a former spouse.

She argued Ms Ryan was not a dependent receiving maintenance at the time of Mr Harrison’s death.  

Ms Ryan’s counsel, Gerard Forde, said Ms Ryan did not apply for further maintenance in court before the judge’s death as she ‘feared for her safety’.  

Ms Ryan claimed in an affidavit that she divorced Mr Harrison following ‘extremely violent’ behaviour.  

‘After our marriage … the deceased became very controlling and abusive on all levels; financially, emotionally, psychologically and physically,’ Ms Ryan said in the affidavit.

‘This was my first experience with domestic violence and it devastated me and resulted in my lifelong symptoms of depression, anxiety and … mental torture for me.’ 

Ms Ryan said Mr Harrison ‘would erupt into one of his wild, violent and dangerous rages’ if he did not approve of something she did.

She confirmed in the affidavit he had deliberately set their house on fire on June 2, 1991 – and alleged lawyers colluded to cover up the blaze, which Mr Harrison was not charged over. 

Though Justice Glenn Martin decided last Tuesday Ms Ryan was not considered to be a 'spouse' and that the bulk of the estate would go to Mr Harrison's (left) former carer and housekeeper Rampai Harrison (right) - whom he married in 2018

Though Justice Glenn Martin decided last Tuesday Ms Ryan was not considered to be a ‘spouse’ and that the bulk of the estate would go to Mr Harrison’s (left) former carer and housekeeper Rampai Harrison (right) – whom he married in 2018 

Earlier this month, ABC printed details from court documents revealing Ms Ryan alleged her then husband ‘controlled every aspect’ of her life, including paying her a wage she could only spend on ‘household expenses, including groceries’.  

The documents revealed she felt ‘worthless, powerless, depressed and in a constant state of anxiety because if I ever did something he didn’t approve of, he would erupt into one of his wild, violent and dangerous rages’. 

‘I often saw Therese with bruises and a swollen nose and believed at the time that she was clearly a victim of domestic violence,’ Helen Jarvis, the couple’s housekeeper from 1990 to 1992, wrote in an affidavit. 

Benjamin Ryan, a pathologist and one of Ms Ryan’s sons from another marriage, said in an affidavit earlier in August: ‘He would push her into walls and punch her about the head and face and when sometimes she fell to the floor, he would kick her in the stomach.’ 

Ms Kumkuang was Mr Harrison's former carer and housekeeper until they married in 2018

Ms Kumkuang was Mr Harrison’s former carer and housekeeper until they married in 2018

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