A former factory worker who won £101 million on the lottery has no obligation to keep “bailing out his profligate son”, a judge has ruled.
Michael Dawes, an ex-Royal Navy officer, took his dad, Dave, and step-mother, Angie, to court after they turned off the money tap and stopped topping up his bank balance.
Michael, 32, claimed Dave and Angie, both 53 from Wisbech, gave repeated assurances that he “would always be looked after”.
Michael and his civil partner, James Beedle, 34, said they assumed the cash would keep rolling in and based a series of key life decisions on that.
The couple had received a total of nearly £1.6 million from Dave and Angie in the two years after the win, the Central London County Court heard.
But by 2013 “most of it had been spent”, explained Judge Nigel Gerald.
The judge comprehensively dismissed Michael and James’s claim, ruling: “There was no basis on which any rational or normal human being could conclude that they could go back for more money whenever they wanted”.
Michael had been given £1m by Dave and Angie soon after their bonanza win in 2011 but “within a month of that gift Michael had spent nearly all of it”, said the judge.
£550,000 went on a house in Portsmouth, where Michael lived, but he also lavished nearly £250,000 on James’ family and their friends.
And soon afterwards Michael gave up his lucrative job in IT, a decision which he claimed was partly based on his dad’s “assurances”.
His father had no idea that nearly £250,000 had been “given away” by his son, and was “baffled” when Michael pitched up in April 2012 - “having pretty much run out of money”.
But “as a father he wanted to help his son out”, said the judge, so he kept “topping up” his funds.
“Michael took this as a demonstration that his father would cough up whenever asked, and this therefore buttressed his strange conclusion that his dad would financially support him for the rest of his life”.
The judge concluded: “I cannot accept this.”
By March 2013 Dave and Angie were becoming increasingly troubled by Michael’s rate of spending, and called a family meeting at which they agreed to pay off some of the couple’s debts.
“But Angie made clear that there would be nothing more,” explained Judge Gerald.
And the “sad denouement to this sorry tale” came at Angie’s 49th birthday party in November 2013 - during which both father and son were the worse for drink.
“The evidence is that Michael behaved extremely badly, demanding £5 million from his father, and also verbally abusing and bad-mouthing Angie.
“That was the final straw,” and the party ended with the ex-Royal Navy man being “pushed out of the house”.
“Since then Dave has not spoken to his son and no more money has been given to him,” the judge added.
At one point James and Michael were spending around £20,000 to £30,000-a-month - with a £1,000 weekly grocery bill, which the judge termed an “astonishing” level of expenditure.
“That was way outside their means”, he said, adding that they seemed to have lived “some sort of Walter Mitty existence”.
And although Dave and Angie had continued to dole out cash for two years after their lottery coup, this did not mean they had to keep on giving indefinitely.
Dave’s “largesse” was in the context of “a father bailing out his profligate son”, the judge said.
“But that couldn’t give rise to an expectation of further bail-outs.”
And the judge concluded: “Michael was provided with the funds to have a comfortable life, but for his own reasons he chose not to take that opportunity.
“I therefore dismiss the claim.”
Angie Dawes said she told Michael to “stop going to the Ritz for lunch and go to McDonalds instead” when she heard how he was burning through his cash.
She added that she and Dave had doled out £1million each to 11 of their close family and friends within a month of their win.
She described the £1m gift as “absolutely mind-blowing”, but added: “I never thought it would be gone a couple of years down the road.
“We thought that £1m would more than cover them for life.
Judge Gerald asked whether she and Dave had ever talked about giving their children more than the £1million.
She replied: “No we never had that conversation, it was always £1million.
“That should last for the rest of their lives”.
She and Dave got irritated when they learnt how Michael was burning through his windfall, Angie told the court.
“I told him to stop going to the Ritz for lunch and go to McDonalds instead,” she explained.
Also giving evidence was Dave’s other son, Matthew Dawes, who like Michael received £1m from Dave and Angie.
Matthew said their dad had been clear that they would need to “keep working to pay the bills”.
Angie and Dave’s QC, Richard Wilson, attacked Michael and James’s case as “misconceived in fact and in law”.
“In reality it is born out of regret on Michael’s part,” he told the judge.
“If they do not have the financial security that Dave and Angie’s gifts could have provided them with, then they only have themselves to blame.”
After the ruling James Beedle, who has now transferred to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary after leaving the Royal Navy, was philosophical.
“There are no hard feelings,” he said. “We just thought we had a genuine claim.”