Picture: Pershing 88. Supplied.

INTERNATIONAL - A wealthy businessman went on a £30,000 holiday, leaving his partner and their two children at home with just £10 a day to spend on food, a tribunal heard. 

Rebecca Vowles claimed she was only ‘permitted to shop for food in Asda’ while Max Walker swanned around at Cowes Week, the sailing regatta popular with the super-rich. The couple had appeared destined for a life of luxury following his ostentatious marriage proposal onboard a yacht in 2009. But they separated acrimoniously in 2012 and have been involved in a series of bitter court disputes ever since.

The latest case, which Mr Walker was not a party to, involves a disputed £170,000 tax bill following the collapse of a shopping website the couple ran. Miss Vowles, 45, appealed the bill, saying she was only a nominal director of the firm, while also alleging Mr Walker bullied and beat her. His abuse included taking her bank cards so she had no access to her money, the court heard. She also said he broke her foot and collar bone.

Accepting her claims, Judge Barbara Mosedale said: ‘He mentally abused her by denigrating her. He would criticise her appearance and ignore her. He would always put her down verbally.’

The judge added: ‘Physical abuse commenced in 2005, about 18 months after their relationship began and around the time she became pregnant.

‘Mr Walker would spit at her and physically push her around. He once locked her in the Jacuzzi with little air and she passed out. On another occasion, he hit her head against a wall, causing her to lose consciousness, yet she told the ambulance crew that she had had a panic attack. He broke her foot and collar bone.’

Mr Walker proposed eight years ago by stitching the words ‘will you marry me?’ on to the sail of his 38ft yacht. They never married but moved into a £2million home in Poole, Dorset. They had two children and set up Nettex Media.com Limited. The tax tribunal heard that Miss Vowles agreed to be director because Mr Walker, 53, had been disqualified as one.

Mr Walker had an affluent lifestyle but there was little money for his family, the court heard. Miss Vowles was allowed about £150 a week. But the judge said: ‘In 2012 Mr Walker went on holiday to Cowes Week at a cost of about £30,000.

‘He left Miss Vowles at home with their children for ten days with only £100 to spend on food.’ Their company was investigated for fraud and went into liquidation at about the time the couple’s relationship ended in 2012.

HMRC then hit Miss Vowles with £176,000 in tax bills. But Judge Mosedale, sitting at Southampton Magistrates’ Court, slashed her tax bill, ruling that HMRC should have targeted Mr Walker, not her. However, she emphasised that Mr Walker ‘did not have the opportunity to put his side of the story’. In 2015, Miss Vowles was convicted of harassment after she bombarded Mr Walker with voicemails and abuse on social media. Speaking after the latest case, Mr Walker denied all the allegations.

 - DAILY MAIL