Melissa Proles enjoyed a passionate romance with entrepreneur, Baldev Kohli, who she met at Weybridge’s exclusive St George’s Tennis Club
A mum whose daughter was cut out of her ‘larger than life’ lover’s £2.5m will has won the right to sue his widow for a slice of his fortune.
Melissa Proles, 44, enjoyed an intense nine-month relationship with successful entrepreneur, Baldev Kohli.
They met at Weybridge’s prestigious St George’s Tennis Club and lived together until she moved out six months before her daughter’s birth in 2013.
Mr Kohli, who came to the UK from India in 2003, was ‘absolutely besotted’ by the newborn, she told the High Court, and pledged to support her ‘until I die’.
Judge Julia Clark said it was ‘clear from text exchanges between him and Miss Proles that, from the moment of her birth, he was very interested and committed to her.’
He held a party at the tennis club to celebrate the birth – but was leading a double life, with a wife of 33 years still in India, and two sons.
Mr Kohli was very much still married when he met Miss Proles, ‘although he told her that he was divorced’, said the judge.
Although a Sikh by birth, he had ‘radically’ broken with tradition by cutting his hair and ceasing to wear a turban.
Tragedy struck in October 2014 when he was diagnosed with mouth cancer, eventually returning to India where he died – aged just 59 – in December 2015.
Mr Kohli’s death has now sparked a legal storm as Miss Proles seeks ‘reasonable provision’ for her five-year-old from his estate.
By the final will he signed in October 2015, he left his entire fortune to his widow, Harjeet Kaur Kohli, but Miss Proles says that is simply not fair.
Mrs Kohli’s lawyers are fighting her every inch of the way, even disputing that Mr Kohli is really the little girl’s father.
They insisted at a preliminary hearing that Mr Kohli remained Indian at heart and the case had no place in an English court.
The businessman, who made his money manufacturing pharmaceutical ampoules, had never intended to make England his permanent home, they argued.
Mr Kohli, who amassed his wealth in the pharmaceuticals business and property investment, left his entire £2.5m fortune to his widow
But, opening the way for Miss Proles to pursue her claim on her daughter’s behalf, Judge Clark said Mr Kohli was ‘domiciled in England at the date of his death’.
She painted a picture of Mr Kohli as a complex figure, but ruled that the ‘tapestry of his life’ had moved to England before he died.
After selling his business in India, he travelled to the UK and boosted his fortune by dealing in property.
And, after hooking up with Miss Proles, the couple moved into a rented house in Weybridge together, ‘and made plans to buy a home’.
‘Sadly, their relationship came to an end on August 26 2012. By this stage Miss Proles was pregnant’, the judge added.
But Mr Kohli remained ‘enthusiastically involved’ in his daughter’s life, seeing her and her mother ‘several times a week’.
He funded her nursery place and ‘provided financial support’ to Miss Proles, the court heard.
And she said he had only returned to India to seek the winter sun and recover from gruelling medical treatment.
He told some of Miss Proles’ friends at the tennis club that he was divorced from his wife, although he assured others that they were still married.
The club ‘formed a huge part of his life’ and he was described as its ‘most frequent attender’, going there three or four times a week.
Although he attended family events in India, ‘there was no evidence that he had a social life’ there, said the judge.
And Mrs Kohli’s claim that she was ‘physically and emotionally close’ to her husband throughout their marriage was ‘unsupported by any evidence’.
Miss Proles is now asking the court to grant her daughter ‘reasonable provision’ from Mr Kohli’s estate – but faces fierce resistance from his widow, Harjeet Kaur Kohli
The judge concluded that, ‘from about 2009 or 2010 he was no longer closely bound to Mrs Kohli’.
By then, ‘his emotional centre of gravity had moved from India to England’.
And there was ‘very strong’ evidence that Mr Kohli had intended to return to England after recovering from his illness.
He had an ‘ever-present desire to resume a romantic relationship’ with Miss Proles, although he always maintained affectionate ties with his wife.
The hearing of Miss Proles’ bid to win a share of Mr Kohli’s fortune for her daughter will now be heard in England at a later date.