Ottawa Citizen
Thursday June 08, 2000

Sask. court says former couple must split $2-million lottery jackpot

CRAIG WONG
The Ottawa Citizen

REGINA (CP) - David Thompson said he's moving up from bologna sandwiches after the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal awarded him $1.08 million on Thursday - half the cash from a winning lottery ticket purchased by his former lover.

"It's a lot more money than I need," said a broadly grinning Thompson of the Lotto 6-49 jackpot. Thompson, 53, said he will invest most of the money and use some of it to travel to Hong Kong.

He successfully sued Berta Haley last year for half the winnings after she ended their three-year relationship on May 28, 1998, the day she cashed the winning ticket. Haley then filed an appeal.

However, in announcing a unanimous decision Thursday, Justice Stuart Cameron said the case came down to whose version of events the trial judge believed and there was no basis for the appeal court to question the lower court ruling.

"There is no tenable basis for interfering with the judgment of the trial judge," Cameron said as he dismissed the appeal.

Ron Gates, Haley's lawyer, had argued the trial judge erred in finding that Thompson purchased the ticket and that the couple agreed to share any winnings.

During the trial Haley testified that she bought the ticket and had been considering leaving Thompson for some time.

Haley, a former dry cleaning shop worker, and Thompson, a farmhand and part-time musician, lived together in Arborfield, about 260 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

During the week-long civil trial, Haley portrayed Thompson as an emotionally and physically abusive man who controlled her every move and kicked and slapped her on occasion.

In contrast, Thompson described the relationship as loving and caring.

As the decision was read Thursday, Haley shook her head, muttered to herself and fussed with her purse.

Haley, who now lives in Regina, refused to speak to reporters as she left the court.

Gates said no decision had been made about any further appeal.

"Berta is obviously very disappointed," he said. "She knows who bought the ticket. She and Mr. Thompson are the only ones who know who bought the ticket."

Thompson said he thought the lawsuit was unnecessary.

"It should never have gone to court. Greed and stupidity go a long way to make these things happen," he said.

Despite the two-year legal fight, he doesn't hold a grudge against Haley.

"I just wish her well," he said. "There's never been any hard feelings."

© The Canadian Press, 2000

Copyright 2000 Ottawa Citizen