Coast legal identity’s vow before sudden death
Business identity Michael Yarwood before his sudden death had vowed to clear his name by fighting his legal battle against Will the Wrecker, according to friends and lawyers.
The Bulletin understands Mr Yarwood's Gold Coast family was contacted late on Wednesday by police after his body was found in his Main Beach apartment. There are no suspicious circumstances.
"All his cases were going ahead, they were going to be contested. I spoke to him on Tuesday. He seemed fine," a friend said.
Mr Yarwood's defence lawyer Michael Gatenby, of Gatenby Criminal Lawyers, said yesterday his client had been "determined" to fight the charges.
"He very much wanted to clear his name," Mr Gatenby said.
In the latest battle where he was due to appear in court later this month, Mr Yarwood was accused of acting as a solicitor despite being struck off in 2015. It was alleged he sent emails purporting to act for a "client" in a matter.
"He had a declaration on all his letters stating he was not a lawyer and it was not legal advice," Mr Gatenby said.
Mr Yarwood was a former Somerset College school captain, and after graduating groomed to be a future LNP MP. He is survived by his wife and five children.
A family spokesperson told the Bulletin: "The police have said there are no suspicious circumstances. There are none. There is no cause of death yet. There was no indication of any kind of mental or emotional issue."
Mr Yarwood was jailed in 2011 for misappropriation of funds and forgery but released after nine months when he won an appeal against the sentence after detailing health issues.
His failed business relationship with Joseph "Will the Wrecker" Smith, a reclusive millionaire who operates the Reedy Creek business fronting the Pacific Motorway, again put him in the media spotlight.
For several months, the 47-year-old businessman had not appeared at several court hearings as he sought treatment for mental health issues.
In May he appeared beside Mr Gatenby who agreed for charges to go ahead but sought a report detailing his client's mental capacity.
Outside court, Mr Yarwood said he denied the allegations and would be "strenuously defending" himself.
Mr Yarwood admitted he was facing a struggle with mental illness.
"I've been battling depression for a good 16 years of my life and bipolar (disorder) is a wonderful thing when you're running high, but when you're running low it's just horrendous," he said.
In March, after a stunning court victory, Mr Yarwood was given three weeks to pay more than $1.8 million or be bankrupted by Mr Smith. He was also defending a damages claim of $400,000 for defamation and two charges from the Legal Services Commission.
Mr Smith promised more court action after winning a Supreme Court battle in Brisbane in which Judge Glenn Martin ordered Mr Yarwood pay $1.65 million, interest of $204,866 and court costs that could total up to $500,000.
Mr Smith declined to comment yesterday. Southport barrister Chris Garlick, who has conducted investigations on his behalf, is reviewing the status of their legal cases with the intent of seeking compensation.
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