"He always hated me. He was convinced I couldn't be his son."
A man claimed his white father never accepted him because he was “too dark-skinned” during a court battle for a share of his £500,000 estate.
Sunny Pyburn was subjected to “horrific” physical and emotional abuse from Bill Pyburn as a child, sparked by his belief that he was not his real son.
Sunny had been born from an affair his father had, but due to his “very dark skin” as a child, Bill believed he was not truly his son.
When he died in 2020, Bill cut Sunny out of his will completely, with his £500,000 Winchester home going to his estranged wife Jackie Pyburn.
Sunny launched a “moral claim” against Jackie for a share of the estate, which he said he deserved due to the “cruel” abuse he suffered and which he said has affected him to this day.
Central London County Court heard that Bill and Jackie got married in 1969.
That same day, they moved into the property in Goring Fields, where Jackie still lives now.
In the early 1980s, Bill had an affair with psychologist Dr Gita Deb and ultimately left his wife to live with his lover in Eastleigh.
Sunny was soon born, but Bill continued to return to Goring Fields, where he had a workshop in the garage.
As Sunny grew up, Jackie often had to look after him when Bill brought him to the former matrimonial home when his childminder was busy.
The father-son relationship ended in 2006 when Bill was convicted of sex offences against a woman and Sunny refused to support him.
His father almost immediately made a will, leaving his £500,000 house to Jackie and nothing at all for Sunny.
Claiming a payout from Jackie’s inheritance, Sunny told Recorder Marie-Clare Bleasdale that he had a “moral claim” to the estate.
He was physically and emotionally abused by Bill, which Sunny said was dressed up as “punishment or discipline”.
Sunny said his father would berate him with allegations that he could not be his son because his skin was “too dark”.
Dr Deb was Asian but Bill believed that Sunny’s biological father must have been Asian too because of his skintone.
Sunny, who is an English teacher in Barcelona, told the judge his dad had often referred to him as a “f***ing p***” who could not be his son.
Bill also objected to Sunny wearing a baseball cap backwards because he did not want him “to look like a n****r.”
Sunny told the court he would be beaten or insulted if the extra schoolwork his dad set was wrong.
One incident saw Sunny have his head slammed against a wall for writing down random words on a test.
Describing the abuse, Sunny added:
“He always hated me. He was convinced I couldn’t be his son.”
Suing Jackie for a share of Bill’s estate, Sunny claimed his education and earning potential had been adversely impacted and significantly affected by the impact of the abuse.
He said a payout was to pay for better accommodation and to fund training so that he can forge a career in computer programming and earn a better wage.
Sunny said the abuse had led to mental health problems and therapy and that he had struggled in adulthood to form connections with other people.
Although he had worked as a wedding DJ in England, he has since moved to Spain, where he earns a very low wage and lives in shared accommodation in a rough area.
Meanwhile, Jackie denied seeing any abuse, describing Bill as a “gentle man” who only wanted his son to have a good education.
She insisted she would have intervened if there were any signs.
Jackie also accused Sunny of making up the claims to boost his case.
But Recorder Bleasdale said:
“I find I cannot reject Sunny’s account of these events.”
The judge cited a Facebook message from Sunny’s half-brother Steven in which he detailed Jackie’s admission of having put doubts into Bill’s mind about his paternity.
In evidence, Jackie explained that she had received a call from the husband of Sunny’s mother, which had set off a genuine doubt that Sunny was Bill’s child.
Recorder Bleasdale said she was convinced that Jackie was unaware of the abuse because she was not always there when Sunny and Bill were together.
She added: “I form the view that Jackie and Sunny were both victims of the deceased’s behaviour and both had to deal with the consequences of that behaviour.”
The judge accepted that Sunny’s current living situation is not sustainable but said Jackie also needed what she had been left by Bill to look after herself in old age.
The judge said Sunny had a “sense of being wronged” following the abuse, but was wrong in suggesting that Jackie had turned a blind eye to what happened.
But although Bill’s actions towards his son were “morally reprehensible”, the judge said she could not make an award from the estate as a “punishment”.
At the time of his death, Bill’s “primary obligation” was to Jackie because they were still married and she was living in the home they moved into on their wedding day 54 years ago.
Recorder Bleadale said: “At the date of his death, he owed Sunny no continuing obligation.
“He was an adult man and he was supporting himself. Sunny is a young man, well able to earn his own living.
“I accept he will have to make lifestyle changes to do so, but that is his responsibility.”
Sunny’s claim was subsequently refused.