Slander case wife collapses at court: Son says 'abusive' mother wielded cane and threw vase. Stephen Ward reports

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The Independent Online
SHIRLEY WRAITH, 49, who is defending a slander action brought by her ex-husband, broke down in tears yesterday and left the courtroom as her son gave evidence against her.

Minutes later, sitting in the corridor at the High Court, she collapsed with breathing difficulties and was taken to hospital by ambulance, as the case was adjourned until today.

Her son, Jonathan, 20, has sided with his father, David Wraith, 48, a wealthy businessman and former chairman of Scunthorpe United Football Club, who is bringing the action against his former wife.

He said that up to the age of about 10, he had got on with his mother despite occasional rows, and they loved each other. But as the divorce became imminent, she became abusive towards him, especially when his father was on business. 'My father used to go away and leave me in the house with her. I recall a time when she hit me with the cane of a feather duster and chased me down the corridor.'

'I locked myself in the bedroom and pleaded with her 'Don't hit me, don't hit me'. She hammered on the door. She was absolutely mad. She sweet-talked her way into the bedroom. I trusted her and she opened the door and belted me with the cane.' He later decided to leave home with his father.

'My father showed love for me, but my mother did not in the last two years leading up to the divorce. She would not get hold of me and just give me a hug.'

Jonathan, who still lives with his father and runs a small plant hire company set up by him, said his father had not needed to buy his affections.

He recounted an incident one night when the couple still shared a home but had a legal separation allocating them separate times in the kitchen. His mother had come in and swept their salmon on to the floor.

'When you are 13 as I was then, you don't need escorting to bed. You just say goodnight and have a kiss on the cheek. But I had to be escorted down the hall as I had to pass her bedroom and it wasn't unusual to have things thrown at you.

'One night my mother threw a dried flower arrangement in a vase at my father and myself walking down the corridor.'

Mr Wraith, of Brampton, Lincolnshire, claims his ex-wife had waged a campaign of vengeance against him after their pounds 900,000 divorce settlement in 1988, claiming he had infected her with venereal disease, practised insider dealing, and stolen the proceeds from the sale of a Majorcan property. He is seeking damages, including aggravated damages, for slander and nuisance.

Mrs Wraith, of Scotter, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, claims that her allegations were true, and denies alleging dishonesty.

(Photograph omitted)