Bizarre break-up leads to court over gifts

SOME may call it Indian giving while others may prefer the term sour grapes.

Whatever the terminology, when your beloved long-term boyfriend buys you a gift the last thing you expect is to be dragged through the court system to return it when things go sour.

But for one Murwillumbah student, this nightmare was her bizarre break-up.

Belinda Jane Hope was dating a man 18 years her senior for about four or five years before it all went downhill.

The disgruntled boyfriend, Darren John Howard Ray, lodged a claim in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, demanding Ms Hope pay back money he gave to her during the relationship.

The claim included $50 for a dog blanket, about $100 for petrol Mr Ray gave to Ms Hope to drive from Murwillumbah to Brisbane to visit him, $100 for vet fees and $171.47 for a Splendour in the Grass ticket in 2006.

Mr Ray was also making a claim for $254.30 in interest and $28 from Ms Hope's mother, for alcohol and cigarettes.

The defence case argued that the money from the scorned lover was not a loan but gifts inspired by love and affection.

A judgment, released this week, detailed how Mr Ray attempted to appeal a decision QCAT handed down that dismissed his minor disputes claim.

In arguing her defence, Ms Hope told QCAT that Mr Ray had bought her a ticket to Splendour in the Grass festival following an invitation to attend as his guest.

Ms Hope claimed she sent Mr Ray a text stating she would pay him back but later told QCAT the pair was in a long-term relationship and Mr Ray had told her many times "you don't have to pay me back".

QCAT found it was logical to draw an inference "that as is usual in a lot of dating or relation situations, someone who has the money, is earning the money, actually can pay".

"Promises made in social contexts are generally unenforceable in courts of law," a QCAT adjudicator outlined in the judgment.

"Love's disappointments do not retrospectively alter that position."

The judgment revealed Mr Ray was unable to produce any receipts for the doggie blanket, alcohol or cigarettes.

QCAT stated it would be expected someone who was "sufficiently obsessive" to unlawfully tape a phone call to his girlfriend, to lodge a claim for $28 and demand interest, would have been equipped with supporting information.

The QCAT decision to dismiss Mr Ray's claim was upheld.


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