Man Leaves Rs 1.4 Crore House to Cabbie Who Drove Him to Pubs, Court Declares Will Invalid
Dean Hughes, 34, claimed Gary Mendez ,57, wanted to leave him "everything" because he had ferried him to pubs for years when other cabbies wouldn't because of Mendez’s obese weight.
Image credit: Twitter / Reuters
A taxi driver in the United Kingdom is facing a huge court bill after a will by a regular client naming him inheritor was declared invalid by a court.
Dean Hughes, 34, claimed Gary Mendez ,57, wanted to leave him "everything" because he had ferried him to pubs for years when other cabbies wouldn't because of Mendez’s obese weight, according to a Mirror UK report.
Mendez made out a will - including his £160,000 house - in favour of Hughes over a drink in a pub three months before he died in 2016, leaving his long-term civil partner, Hermes Rodrigues, in the lurch.
A bitterly- fought legal battle ensued, eventually leaving Hughes with an estimated £50,000 court bill, after Judge David Eaton Turner ruled that Mendez's will was invalid.
The judge said Mendez was in very poor health and had already been drinking when he signed the will in the George Hotel, in Hailsham, in February 2016, according to the report.
"I have great doubts whether Gary had a proper understanding of the contents and effect of the 2016 will," he said in his judgment.
He added: "It must be likely that the pint on the table was not his first drink of the day."
The court heard that Mendez had met his partner Rodrigues on a cruise in 2001. They began a relationship and, in 2012, Rodrigues moved to England to be with his partner, ultimately moving into his Tollgate Gardens home with him in 2012.
Rodrigues told the court that Mendez, three years before he died in May 2016, had left everything to him including his £160,000 house.
"He told me that it would always be my home whatever happened, even if our relationship broke down," Rodrigues told the judge at Central London County Court.
"I thought we would be together for a very long time. It never occurred to me that he would be gone at such a young age."
Rodrigues said two days after his partner's death, he was told by the Hughes that there was a new will, in which Mendez had instead left his house to the taxi driver who had been ferrying him to different pubs .
Hughes said he had been friends with Mendez and was his preferred driver, because others would not take him because of his 158kg weight.
Hughes said they arranged the wording of a new will over the phone after Mendez told him he wanted him to have the luxurious house.
Mendez then took him to a bar on a February 2016 morning to sign the will in front of witnesses.
Challenging the will, Rodrigues argued that Mendez was so badly affected by his health and alcohol that he did not fully understand what he was doing.
Hughes initially said no alcohol was consumed before the will was signed, but later admitted a pint of bitter was bought for Mendez, said the judge.
"He had ultimately to accept that alcohol had been purchased, and was on the table, before the 2016 will was signed," he said.
Mendez was a heavy drinker and the evidence showed it was "likely" that he had drunk alcohol earlier that day, the judge continued.
He rejected the claim that the pub will was forged or was signed under the "undue influence" of the taxi driver.
But he said Mendez's mental state was so affected by the ravages of drink and his health conditions that it could not stand.
He was "no longer able to comprehend" the effect of what he was doing, he said.
"In my judgment, Gary, by this time, no longer had a balanced view of the claims to which he ought to give effect, and in particular had lost sight of his previous promise to leave the house to Hermes," he ruled.
The judge ordered that the house be transferred to Rodrigues and ordered Hughes to pick up 85 per cent of the lawyers' bills in the case, meaning he faces a total bill expected to run to over £50,000.
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