No love lost as gold-digging wife is told to repay 156,000 pounds

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WHEN Ronald Askew, a bank executive in California, discovered that his former wife had never fancied him during their 13-year marriage, he did what any self-respecting citizen would do in this litigious nation. He sued her for fraud, writes Phil Reeves.

And a jury delivered a verdict to send a chill through the heart of every gold-digger that has walked up the aisle dreaming of a spouse's bank account and Bentleys rather than his (or her) bed. It decided she had misrepresented her feelings, and awarded him dollars 240,000 ( pounds 160,000) in damages.

Mr Askew brought the case after his former wife, Bonnette, confessed to a psychiatrist that she had never felt a scintilla of sexual interest for him. The balding 50-year-old, who earns about dollars 200,000 ( pounds 130,000) a year as president of Pacific Inland Bank, argued that he would never have agreed to marry her had he known.

Nor would he have transferred ownership of four of his properties into both their names. She was, he concluded, after him for his goods and chattels.

'When people enter in a marriage, they have a right to be honest with each other. If not, don't get married,' he told reporters after the hearing in Anaheim, outside Los Angeles.

The jury, who ordered her to return her dollars 240,000 ( pounds 156,000) share of the four homes, clearly agreed. 'She went into the marriage holding back something that was obviously very important to him,' one juror told the Los Angeles Times.

Mrs Askew - who under state divorce law would have been entitled to half of everything the couple owned jointly - insisted she had loved him, but complained he had a 'sexual problem that cooled him of his passion'.

The only reason she did not reveal to him that, for more than a decade, he did not light her candle was out of sensitivity. 'I didn't want to damage his male ego,' she said.