British Columbia

'Trophy husband' awarded $157K from B.C. widow

A former figure skater, model and wealthy B.C. widow has been ordered to pay her so-called 'trophy husband' $157,000 in support after a 14-year relationship.
The ex-boyfriend took the elderly woman to B.C. Supreme Court for support, and won. (Mike Laanela/CBC)

A former world-class figure skater, model and wealthy widow has been ordered by a British Columbia court to pay her so-called "trophy husband" more than $157,000 in support after a 14-year relationship.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Randall Wong ruled that 66-year-old Gordon Walker was the spouse of 86-year-old Valerie Fortune Brown and is entitled to support as a result.

Before the relationship, Walker lived on welfare or was periodically employed, but then became a "kept man" and "economically dependent," with Brown covering all of his living expenses and luxuries, including about 60 trips to destinations around the world, said the court the ruling.

"Now at 66 years of age, with a long-time economic dependency, the breakup of their relationship has caused Mr. Walker to be economically disadvantaged in terms of what he had been accustomed," said Wong. "His future job prospects are extremely limited."

In addition to the $157,000, Wong ordered Brown to pay Walker interest dating back to Jan. 1, 2012 but also issued a permanent restraining order because of letters the man wrote to Brown's legal counsel, threatening to write his memoirs about the couple's sexual experiences.

Only a 'heavy luggage porter'

Brown had argued Walker was just a platonic live-in friend, a domestic male security escort and travelling companion, as well as a "heavy luggage porter."

Citing Walker's "reprehensible conduct," Wong also deprived the man of his court costs, which normally would have been granted.

The court heard Brown was raised in England, educated in a private girls' school, became a world-class figure skating champion and a model for art sculptures before she married twice.

After her second husband died in 1994, Brown was left with an estate of nearly $8 million that included investments, property and retirement income.

Meantime, Wong described Walker as a Grade 12 graduate and former bookkeeper, clerk, dispatcher and sales executive.

The two met in June 1997 at a federal polling station on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, and within days she was helping him find work, buying him lunch, food hampers and even a $120 pen.

By September of that year, Brown invited Walker to move into her home, states Wong's ruling, and that same month she gave him money to buy a new home that both were supposed to inhabit but didn't.

The court also heard that during the relationship, Brown bought Walker a $10,000 Rolex watch, a new Lexus SUV and opened several joint bank accounts to cover expenses.

Plastic surgery

"Ms. Brown even underwent cosmetic face lift surgery to remove facial wrinkles and furrow on her forehead," wrote Wong. "This was done despite Mr. Walker's concern and objection, reassuring her that she looked beautiful to him."

Wong said the couple never married and maintained separate bedrooms but shared hotel and ship-cabin rooms with twin beds during their travels.

Walker even signed a residency agreement in August 1998, after Brown had returned from a trip to eastern Canada to visit her children.

"In their 14-year relationship, the [Walker] regarded himself as a 'kept man' and a 'trophy husband," wrote Wong, who noted Walker became more assertive in the relationship, pestered Brown for partial ownership of her assets and frequently asked her to marry him unsuccessfully.

Wong said Brown eventually became disillusioned with Walker and concerned he was abusing his credit cards for cash advances and personal use and was secretly withdrawing funds from their joint bank account.

"She felt she could no longer trust him," said Wong. "She was also concerned with protecting her adult children's potential inheritance, if Mr. Walker continued to aggressively press for a greater share of her holdings."