Appeal for $3.3m lotto prize 'incompetent'

·2-min read

"Incompetent" can now sit alongside "hopeless" and "highly implausible" as judges' descriptions of a pensioner's five-year bid to capture $3.3 million in unclaimed lotto winnings.

The NSW Court of Appeal on Wednesday dismissed as incompetent David Owen Renshaw's bid to reinstate his claim for an unclaimed Oz Lotto first division prize from a 1997 draw.

The decision should spell the end of the disability pensioner's claim against NSW Lotteries, first aired in the state's supreme court in 2016.

Like the other 50-odd people claiming over the years to be the true winner of Oz Lotto Draw 188's unclaimed prize, Mr Renshaw has never produced the winning ticket.

He claims a Sydney newsagent checked the ticket in 1997, said "no winner", threw it in the bin and then locked himself in his office.

Dismissing the claim in 2020 after trial, NSW Supreme Court Justice Des Fagan described Mr Renshaw's accounts as "highly implausible on the face of them".

Referring to Mr Renshaw's "irresponsible pursuit of this hopeless claim", the judge ordered Mr Renshaw pay $307,000 to cover some of NSW Lotteries' legal costs.

As well as trying to re-run the arguments in his appeal, Mr Renshaw told the Court of Appeal in October 2020 the lotteries' call centre had told him he had a winning ticket.

"She said, 'Take your ID, love, to the bank nominated and the prize will be paid to you'," the applicant said.

In dismissing the notice to appeal, Justice Paul Brereton said no ground of appeal challenged Justice Fagan's findings.

"Regardless of the merits of any challenge to His Honour's factual findings and conclusions, the appeal cannot succeed," he said.

The judge also refused to refer Mr Renshaw for pro bono assistance.

Mr Renshaw's last lawyers, who had acted pro bono, were sacked and subjected to complaints to the Legal Services Commissioner after Mr Renshaw claimed he "caught every single one of (them) assisting the defendants in one way, form or another".

The applicant also said he believed the lawyers were acting under a suppressed direction from the relevant minister.

"While Mr Renshaw's impecuniosity and limited capacity to conduct complex litigation might favour a referral, the apparent absence of merit in his case does not," Justice Brereton said.

"He is not likely to accept a lawyer's advice if it is not favourable to him."

There was also a "substantial risk" any lawyer appointed would become subject to conduct complaints, the judge said.

Mr Renshaw was ordered to pay NSW Lotteries' costs.