Man leaves $290k house to taxi driver

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A taxi driver who inherited a passenger’s entire estate has been slapped with a huge legal bill after the will was overturned after a bitter legal battle.

The bizarre story began years ago when UK taxi driver Dean Hughes agreed to transport 158kg Gary Mendez to various pubs.

Most other cabbies refused due to Mr Mendez’s size, and over the years the two men struck up a friendship.

Then, in February 2016, Mr Mendez allegedly phoned Mr Hughes and told him he wanted to leave his entire estate to him in his will, including his £160,000 ($A290,000) house in Eastbourne in southeast England.

They then met at a branch of UK pub chain Wetherspoons to sign the legal document in front of witnesses.

But that act disinherited Mr Mendez’s long-term partner Hermes Rodrigues, even though the couple had been in a relationship since meeting on-board a cruise ship in 2001.

He had originally left everything to Mr Rodrigues in an earlier will drawn up in 2013 — but Mr Rodrigues decided to contest the will and has finally had a huge victory after a judge ruled his partner had been too affected by alcohol and ill health to fully comprehend his actions.

media_cameraGary Mendez left his estate to the only cabbie willing to ferry him to pubs. Picture: Champion News Service

When Mr Mendez died in May 2016 at the age of just 57, he was obese, had previously had a stroke and was a habitual heavy drinker.

According to Metro, he was also known to be “forgetful, confused and irritable”.

He had been drinking earlier in the day when the updated will was signed and also consumed a pint of beer at the pub with Mr Hughes.

At Central London County Court last week, Judge Eaton Turner finally overturned the second will and said Mr Mendez was likely drunk at the time it was made.

“I have great doubts whether Gary had a proper understanding of the contents and effect of the 2016 will,” Metro quoted the judge as saying.

“It must be likely that the pint on the table was not his first drink of the day.

“In my judgment, Gary, by this time, no longer had a balanced view of the claims and, in particular, had lost sight of his previous promise to leave the house to Hermes.”

He declared the will invalid, which means Mr Rodriguez, 45, will now inherit the house.

Mr Hughes, a 34-year-old father of four, has also been ordered to pay 85 per cent of the court costs associated with the legal battle, estimated to be worth more than £50,000 ($A91,000).

media_cameraDean Hughes, a married father of four, now faces a staggering legal bill. Picture: Champion News Service

The judge dismissed claims Mr Hughes had placed his customer under “undue pressure” to change the will but found Mr Rodriguez “made a substantial contribution to Gary’s welfare over a significant period of his life”.

During the legal stoush, Mr Hughes labelled Mr Mendez’s partner a “freeloader” and claimed the couple had separated.

But Mr Rodriguez told the court he had “fallen in love with” Mr Mendez who he described as a “very generous and caring man”.

He said Mr Mendez had promised to leave his home to him.

“He told me that it would always be my home whatever happened, even if our relationship broke down,” Mr Rodriguez said.

“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”.

The case echoes that of 50-year-old cleaner Leonora Da Costa whose elderly boss Harold Tickner left her his $A910,000 house in a will.

However, just 16 days before the 91-year-old died in 2015, he apparently had a change of heart, drafting a new will that disinherited her and named his nephew as his beneficiary.

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au

Originally published as Man leaves $290k house to taxi driver



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