Thursday 21 September 2017

Talks fail to reach settlement in case where man is suing stepmother over €3.4m Lotto win

David Walsh (left) and Mary Walsh (right)
David Walsh (left) and Mary Walsh (right)

Aodhan O'Faolain

Talks aimed at resolving a High Court dispute between a step son and his step mother over a one sixth share of a €3.38m Lotto win have failed to bring about a settlement.

The out-of-court talks began on Wednesday morning shortly before evidence was about to resume on the sixth day of David Walsh's action against his step mother Mary Walsh.  He he claims he is entitled to some €560,000 from the win.

Mrs Walsh denies the claim.

She says he was given the option of either a house that had belonged to his late father Peter and Mrs Walsh or €200,000 from the win, and he chose the house. David Walsh denies that.

The winning ticket at the centre of the case was one of two that claimed the Lotto jackpot of Saturday, January 22, 2011.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys heard that the parties wished to continue with the case.

Mrs Walsh's cross examination by Dervla Browne SC, for David Walsh, then resumed.

Mrs Walsh agreed David Walsh never told her he was accepting an offer of Peter Walsh's former home in lieu of €200,000 from the win.  She said Peter Walsh informed her that David had opted for the house at Knocknagreena, Ballinasloe.

The transfer of that property, valued at €135,000, was completed in December 2011 around the time of Peter Walsh's death.

The court also heard evidence from retired National Lottery claims manager, Eamonn Hughes.

Mrs Walsh had said in her evidence that she spoke with with Mr Hughes following the win and  he had advised her about tax liabilities for anyone whom she wished to gift any winnings to.

She said she told Mr Hughes in their phone conversation that she was the sole winner of the prize.

She said that following the conversation it was agreed with her late husband that several others, including David Walsh, were to sign the ticket and sign declarations from the National Lottery to avoid paying any gift tax.

Mr Hughes said he had no recollection of speaking to Ms Walsh about the win but accepted he possibly advised her about forming a syndicate.

All winners are advised to get legal and financial advice he said.

He got the impression that the syndicate in this case had been formed after the win. This was something that happened regularly, he said.

Mr Hughes said the National Lottery didn't have any rules on how winnings are divided or distributed between syndicate members.

He said there is a popular belief that all members of a winning syndicate get equal shares of the pot. However this, he added, was often not the case.

Under cross examination by Ms Browne, Mr Hughes he accepted he described the winners of the prize as "a syndicate" in e-mails he sent to others working with the National Lottery.

He also accepted Mrs Walsh could have told him from the start of their conversation that the prize had been won by a syndicate and not a sole winner.

In his action, David Walsh claims that as his signature was one of six signatures on the back of the ticket and Mary Walsh and the estate of his late father hold the €560,000 in trust for him.

Mrs Walsh (66), of Perssepark, Ballinasloe, who has been sued personally and as personal representative of Peter Walsh’s estate, denies David Walsh's claims.

Evidence in the case concluded.

Both sides will make legal submissions to the court on Thursday.

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