A FARMER'S son who abandoned dreams of a career in the Royal Marines to grow strawberries has won a fight with his brother over the £10million family fruit empire.

Richard Winter became a market gardener instead of joining the military after his dad, Albert, promised him he and his two brothers would have an equal share in the family strawberry business.

Richard, 57, and his brothers Philip, 56, and Adrian, 55, successfully built up Team Green Growers near Bridgwater.

But the family argued about business finances, with Philip and Albert on one side and Richard and Adrian on the other.

As a result, Albert wrote Richard and Adrian out of his will in 2015, leaving his whole estate and share of the business to Philip.

Richard and Adrian went to court to overturn their dad's will, claiming they had dedicated their lives to the fruit farm after he promised them equal shares.

Lawyers for Philip argued neither of his brothers suffered "detriment" as the successful strawberry business had made them both multi-millionaires.

But High Court judge Mr Justice Zacaroli ruled that Albert was compelled to leave his £1.5million share of the business to the three brothers equally.

The High Court at Bristol heard that Albert and his wife Brenda bought Bower Farm and ran a market garden business as they raised their family.

The couple and their three sons later all shared a beneficial interest in Bower Farm.

After Brenda died, Albert and the sons carried on the business together until they fell out and he cut Richard and Adrian out of his will.

Richard and Adrian sued after his death, arguing it was "unconscionable" for Albert to not split his share equally in his will because all the sons had dedicated their lives to the farm on that basis.

Describing the sons' sacrifices, the judge said all three had worked on the farm from an early age.

After they left school, all three devoted their lives to the family business.

"I am satisfied that at least part of the motivation for remaining on the farm was Albert's attitude that if Richard chose the Marines, then he would be cut off from the family, whereas, if he stayed and committed to building the business, he could expect to share in it," added the judge.

He said Adrian also abandoned other life plans.

The business and farms are now in the process of being sold.

Richard and Adrian's barrister Hugh Sims KC said they sacrificed their whole lives to work in the business and could not be deprived of equal shares due to a falling out with their dad in his final years.

The only portion of his estate which Albert was free to leave to whomever he chose was that part outside the business - around £230,000, the barrister argued.

Philip's barrister Alex Troup KC argued because Richard and Adrian will have been made millionaires by the business when it is sold, so they suffered no "detriment" and cannot reasonably argue that their dad had to stick by his promise and keep them in his will.

Giving his ruling, the judge said: "I accept it is likely, had Richard chosen a career in the military, or had Adrian done the sort of other work he did when he temporarily left the family, that they would not have accumulated as much wealth as they have done by working in the family business.

"It is, however, impossible to know what either of them would have done over the 40 or more years that they have in fact worked in the family business, had they chosen some other path."

He added: "I am satisfied that the assurances made by the parents that each son would ultimately be left with an equal share with the others in the family business was a factor that induced Richard and Adrian to continue working for the family business over such a long period.

"I consider, in particular, that it remained a factor in the later years, when Richard and Adrian devoted a proportionately greater amount of time to the business than Philip.

"Had they understood that, in so doing, they were not to receive any part of Albert's share when he died, I think they would have acted differently."

The judge ruled each brother should received around £500,000 from their father's share in the business.