A ‘wealthy’ sausage firm boss has lost a bitter court battle with her elderly mother over a £500,000 home after building up a successful business empire years after she was released from jail over a drug plot.
Tracy Mackness, boss of The Giggly Pig gourmet sausage making company was branded ‘greedy’ by her own mother after the property in Romford, Essex, swapped hands five years ago.
The 55-year-old millionaire sausage tycoon had built up her thriving business after pulling herself back from a life of crime which landed her a ten-year stretch for conspiracy to import £4m of cannabis at the age of 37.
She now runs a company which turns over half-a-million pounds a year and is based round an 800-head pedigree Saddleback pig farm and shop near Romford, Essex.
Tracy was sued by her mum, Caroline Mackness, 77, over an agreement that she sign over her house to her daughter.
The pensioner claimed she had no clear idea what she was doing when she gifted her £550,000 house in Harold Wood, Romford, to Tracy back in 2016, and had been left ‘a guest in her own home’.
Tracy, 55, said the property transfer went through with her mum’s agreement and was designed to protect her from having to sell her home to pay for care costs in future. She would also have the right to stay there for life, Tracy said.
Tracy Mackness, 55, (pictured) boss of The Giggly Pig gourmet sausage making company, has lost a court battle with her mother Caroline Mackness, 77, over an agreement that the pensioner sign over her house to her daughter
The pensioner claimed she had no clear idea what she was doing when she gifted her £550,000 house in Harold Wood, Romford, (pictured) to Tracy back in 2016, and had been left ‘a guest in her own home’
After a four-day trial, Judge Mark Raeside QC has now ruled that Caroline lacked sufficient mental awareness to understand what she was doing, and that the property gift was also ‘procured by undue influence’.
But Tracy was ‘not in fault’ and ‘was not trying to obtain her mother’s property, but acting in what she thought was her mother’s best interests’ when the house was transferred to her, the judge also found.
Caroline’s barrister, Rose Featherstonhaugh, had claimed the deal left her client ‘a guest in her own home’ of 50 years, and without any security.
The pensioner received no independent legal advice before the deed was done and losing her title could make it hard for her to free up cash if needed for future care costs, she said.
Although Tracy had talked about setting up a trust for her mother, none has yet been established, the court heard.
Tracy’s legal team said her only motivation was to safeguard her mother’s interests as she had a history of high spending and bipolar disorder, and was therefore vulnerable to exploitation.
But her mum claimed the deal was unfair, not least because it excluded Tracy’s brother, Garry, from having any stake in the family home.
Judge Mark Raeside QC ruled that Caroline lacked sufficient mental awareness to understand what she was doing, and that the property gift was ‘procured by undue influence’, but said that Tracy was ‘not in fault’ and had been ‘acting in her mother’s interests’
The 55-year-old millionaire sausage tycoon built up her thriving business after pulling herself back from a life of crime which landed her a ten-year stretch for conspiracy to import £4m of cannabis at the age of 37. Tracy qualified in pig husbandry while working with Saddleback pigs on the prison farm and set up Giggly Pig after she was released in 2007
However, Tracy said she had planned that Caroline should have the right to live there for life and that the property would ultimately be split between her and her brother when their mum passes on.
It didn’t make sense for Garry to have his name on the title deeds because at the time he was an undischarged bankrupt, she said.
In her evidence, Caroline branded her daughter a ‘very greedy person’ who ‘wanted the house for herself’, but the judge said this contradicted her own case and that even her own barrister accepted that Tracy acted in good faith.
Giving his ruling, the judge said: ‘I am satisfied that the transfer was procured by undue influence by Tracy, although with no ulterior motives on her part.
‘All that was achieved was an absolute gift to Tracy who is already a wealthy woman and doesn’t need this property.’
He went on to find that Caroline ‘did not have capacity’ to sign over her home as she was not in full control of her faculties at the time.
Caroline said the deal was unfair as it excluded Tracy’s brother, Garry, (pictured) from having any stake in the family home
‘I have no doubt that Tracy wished to protect her mother and didn’t wish to deprive her of the house in which she lived,’ he added.
‘I have not held her to be in fault. She has lost the case before me, but she was doing her very best for her mother.’
Tracy Mackness built up her porker empire after qualifying in pig husbandry while behind bars at East Sutton Park Open Prison, in Maidstone, Kent.
She set up Giggly Pig following her release in 2007, and six years later her compelling life story hit the bookshelves in a full-throttle biography titled ‘Jail Bird: The Life and Crimes of An Essex Bad Girl’.
For decades she was close to her mum, Central London County Court heard, and Caroline even worked for her daughter at her farm shop ‘earning good money’.
But the court case played out against the backdrop of bad blood within the family – with a major family bust-up taking place in Christmas 2016.
Six months later there was a further row over work rotas at Tracy’s farm which ended up with Garry losing the job he had working for his sister, said Tracy’s barrister, Philip Williams.
The judge ruled against Tracy on the key issues of undue influence and lack of capacity but declined to wipe out the transfer, preferring to give both sides time to consider whether a trust can now be set up for Caroline.