Will Declared Invalid After Man Left £160,000 House To Cabbie In Wetherspoon Pub
A taxi driver who was left a house in a 25-stone man's will over a drink in a Wetherspoon pub has been left facing a huge court bill after the will was declared invalid by a judge.
Thirty-four-year-old Dean Hughes, a taxi driver in Eastbourne, said that 57-year-old Gary Mendez agreed to leave him 'everything', reports The Mirror, because Hughes would take him to the pub in his taxi when other drivers refused because of his weight.
'Everything' - in this case - included a £160,000 house that Mendez shared with his partner.
Mendez signed the will, writing the cabbie in, over a pint in a pub a matter of months before he died.
However, that meant that 45-year-old Hermes Rodrigues - Mendez's long-term civil partner - was left with nothing after his death. That lead to a bitter and costly court battle regarding the house.
The judge eventually declared the will void, leaving dad-of-four Hughes with a legal bill that is estimated at more than £50,000.
Judge David Eaton Turner ruled that Mendez had made the will when he was already in bad health and that he had - more than likely - been drinking quite a bit at the time of the signing, which took place in the George Hotel in Hailsham in February 2016.
Judge Turner said: "I have great doubts whether Gary had a proper understanding of the contents and effect of the 2016 will.
"It must be likely that the pint on the table was not his first drink of the day."
Mendez and Rodrigues got together in 2001 after meeting on a cruise ship, where the latter was employed as a steward.
After leaving the cruise ship, Rodrigues moved to England to be with Mendez, moving into his Tollgate Gardens home in 2012.
He described his late partner as a 'very generous and caring man' who he had 'fallen in love with'.
Despite that, Mendez had severe health problems, was hugely obese, and drank heavily. Rodrigues provided care for him as his health deteriorated, and the house was left to him in a will three years before his death.
Rodrigues told the Central London County Court: "He told me that it would always be my home whatever happened, even if our relationship broke down.
"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."
Before Mendez's death in 2016, he told Hughes that he wanted to leave his house to him, and they met in the pub to sign the will before witnesses.
Rodrigues said that because of Mendez's alcohol consumption and health problems, he was not in a position to understand the decision.
Hughes initially said no alcohol had been consumed, but conceded later that a pint of bitter had been bought for Mendez.
Judge Turner continued: "He had ultimately to accept that alcohol had been purchased, and was on the table, before the 2016 will was signed."
He continued to say that it was 'likely' that Mr Mendez had consumed more alcohol at the time of the signing and that he was 'no longer able to comprehend' the consequences of his actions.
However, he did concede that the will was not forged or signed under the 'undue influence' of Mr Hughes.
He ruled: "In my judgement, 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."
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