Toxic feud over TV star’s estate finally ends
A BITTER five-year fight over the estate of breakfast television newsreader Ian "Roscoe" Ross has ended, after a judge dismissed the case.
Ross's estranged son Stuart, a cleaner and woodworker from the Byron Bay hinterland, took legal action against Ross's defacto partner Graydon Bolte, now 82, in January 2015, eight months after his father died.
Mr Bolte, from the Gold Coast, is the sole beneficiary of the estate. He was Ross's defacto for 21 years.
Stuart claimed in court documents that his father was a "bad-tempered", "abusive" and absent father who didn't take any "real responsibility for his children's upbringing" and was not "a devoted parent to his children".
"In fact, after he left the family home in about 1974, he led a separate life and had a lifestyle which did not really include his children at all," he told the court.
Stuart claims his father, who spent part of his career reading the news on the Today show, told him: "This house will be yours one day" referring to an Elanora investment property.
"Because (dad) was a well-known newsreader, I felt that I grew up in his shadow. It was as if nothing was good enough to please him. For his part, I got the impression from him that he felt I should have been more successful in life," Stuart told the court in an affidavit, adding he suffered ongoing health problems.
Bolte hit back in his affidavit filed with the court, saying Stuart was a pothead and dropout, who leeched off his father and threatened to kill him when he refused him cash.
Mr Bolte claims "Channel 7 offered to provide a 24-hour security guard" to protect them after Stuart phoned "late at night and told him he hated him and wished he was dead".
"There were endless phone and SMS threats from Stuart," he said in his affidavit.
In his most recent claim filed in the Supreme Court in Brisbane in April 2017, Stuart Ross claimed Bolte breached his duty as administrator of the estate by "improperly making distributions totalling $435,682" mostly made up of the value of a lavish villa Ross and Bolte owned in Bali.
The villa was sold in November 2015, with net proceeds of $50,125, court documents state.
Stuart's case was bogged down by having to file five versions of his claim, and it never even made it to hearing, losing momentum after Bolte's lawyers told Stuart the estate was actually in the red, once Bolte's $82,329 in legal costs is taken into account.
So after Stuart and his lawyers didn't progress the case for two and a half years, on December 1, Justice Peter Flanagan ordered the case be "dismissed for want of prosecution" and ordered Stuart to pay Bolte's legal costs.
Bolte's solicitor Margaret Miller told the court she made Stuart an offer last year to allow him to drop the case "with each party to bear their own costs", but Stuart didn't respond until August when she got a phone call, allegedly from Stuart.
Ms Miller states in court documents that after she asked him to sign court paperwork to drop the case, he told her in a phone call: "You are a f---- c---- I wont sign anything. You can do your bests to get any costs out of me" He then ended the phone call.
Ms Miller told the court in her affidavit that the end of the case would mean Bolte "is able to get on with his life without the continuing threat of litigation hanging over him".
"The ongoing delay in the litigation has caused significant personal strain on the def who suffers from a number of debilitating medical conditions".
Ross died from pancreatic cancer aged 73 at Robina Hospital on April 30, 2014.
He was survived by three children, Elizabeth, 52, Stuart, 50, and Amanda, 46.
He lived on the Gold Coast since 2002 when he retired from Channel 9, and commuted to Sydney when he returned to work in 2003 for Channel 7 news, retiring again in 2009.
Bolte started a relationship with Ian Ross after they met at a dinner party, and that he and Ross "spent most of our funds on overseas travel in the several years before Ian passed away. It was a lifestyle we enjoyed living together".