A Supreme Court judge has implored BHP Billiton to have a heart and "temper justice with mercy" after the mining giant won the right to evict a former employee from his home of 20 years.
Neville Hampton and partner Nancy Lumsden were just $3511 short of buying their Newman home outright from BHP when Mr Hampton was sacked two years ago for allegedly speeding at a Pilbara mine site.
The two parties had entered into a 15-year sale contract in 1996 under which Mr Hampton had paid 92 per cent of the home before his employment was terminated.
Mr Hampton, who worked for BHP for 21 years and was by the company's own admission a "highly valued" employee, was due to own the home by November. After losing an unfair dismissal case, Mr Hampton took BHP to court in a last-ditch attempt to retain the home he raised his three children in.
But on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice James Edelman ruled Mr Hampton had no legal claim to the house despite an "ambiguous" sale contract.
In his concluding statement, Justice Edelman said it was now up to BHP whether they would "deprive a former employee of his home and community" after he had devoted the majority of his working life to them.
"Outside the strict application of the law, it remains within the power of (BHP) to decide whether they will temper justice with mercy and abstain from insistence upon the benefit of ambiguous provisions of a 'contract of sale' against a person who gave them nearly two decades of his life," he said.
"Mr Hampton is a life member and volunteer for the Newman Speedway. He volunteers at the local primary school. He and Ms Lumsden have raised their three children at the property."
Yesterday, Mr Hampton said he would refuse to leave the four- bedroom property.
"For them to get me out of this house they're going to have to either take me out in a box or drag me out with a chain," he said.
"In anyone's eyes it's just not right."
Mr Hampton, who now drives a truck for another Newman company, said he would be forced to leave his hometown of 23 years if BHP kicked him out."Despite Fair Work Australia ruling against his unfair dismissal case, where it was alleged he travelled 125km/h in a 60km/h zone at Mt Whaleback mine site, Mr Hampton maintains it was not him behind the wheel. A BHP spokesman said the company was reviewing the court decision.