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Churchill's grand-daughter dies

world Updated: Dec 21, 2007 16:06 IST

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Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's grand-daughter died just hours after her son was sentenced to a minimum jail term of 20 months on Thursday for his involvement in a multi-million dollar ecstasy racket.

Nicholas Jake Barton was arrested at his Sydney home in June last year during a series of raids in which officers seized some 250,000 ecstasy tablets worth around $13 million.

The 34-year-old Briton, who is the son of James Barton and Arabella Spencer Churchill, pleaded guilty before Sydney's District Court last month to knowingly taking part in the supply of a commercial quantity of the prohibited drug.

The British hero's grand-daughter died on Thursday without ever being reunited with her son. Judge Colin Charteris was told Arabella Spencer Churchill, who had pancreatic cancer, was expected to live until April and her son would be free in time to visit his mother, the Daily Mail newspaper reported on Friday.

The judge sentenced him to a minimum term of 20 months which, backdated to his arrest, made him eligible for parole in February.

But Arabella, 58, founder of the Children's World Charity, died at her home on Thursday in Somerset. Barton emigrated to Australia at 18, studied marine biology and at one stage ran a pearl farm.