A Melbourne, Austrailia, accountant has won his share of an $867,000 Tattslotto first division prize, three years after he was dropped from a 10-member Big Kahuna house syndicate.
A "thrilled" Danny Watson and his legal team beamed outside court after a magistrate found a newsagent and his company guilty of false and misleading conduct over the handling of the syndicate.
The magistrate said Mr Watson, a regular participant in the Fitzroy agency's system 17 entry, was entitled to damages of $86,700 — his 10 per cent share of the prize — less the $741.95 ticket cost.
Mr Watson had bought stationery and newspapers at Mark Pezzin's outlet and had joined 14 of his lottery draws over several years before super draw 2847 on November 1, 2008.
The Melbourne Magistrates' Court heard last year before Friday's judgment that sometimes Mr Watson did not pay Mr Pezzin before a Saturday draw, but did so the following Monday. On another occasion, when the syndicate won nothing, Mr Watson still felt obliged to later pay.
After Mr Pezzin phoned him two weeks before the super draw to test his interest in joining the Big Kahuna, Mr Watson attended the agency where he said he wanted a share and Mr Pezzin "pencilled" him in on the syndicate sheet.
The day before the draw, Mr Watson arrived at the agency intending to pay, but left after finding Mr Pezzin was absent.
On the Saturday, Mr Pezzin sold the share to another customer as Mr Watson did not show. The following Monday, Mr Watson appeared at the outlet and told Mr Pezzin: "I suppose I owe you some money [for my share]?"
When told no, he asked why. Mr Pezzin said he had been unable to contact him and that he did not want a debt.
Told that the syndicate had won first division, Mr Watson responded: "Then you are going to have problems."
Mr Goldberg was satisfied that Mr Pezzin had encouraged Mr Watson to enter the draw and his intended participation was recorded. He said the most compelling evidence was Mr Watson attending the agency after the draw, ready to pay despite not knowing if the syndicate had won or not.
Mr Goldberg found Mr Pezzin (who had denied liability) and Namberry Craft Pty Ltd guilty of false and misleading conduct and awarded damages.
"We're thrilled," Mr Watson's solicitor Rose Mary Brondolino and barrister Lachlan Watts later told The Age. Mr Pezzin did not return calls from The Age.