Former drug addict could receive $1m in compensation

Barclay White

A FORMER drug addict will be able to access $1 million of compensation after a car crash, despite concerns that he would go on a drug-buying spree.

In a judgment delivered at Bundaberg Supreme Court this week, Justice Duncan McMeekin said Matthew Hewitt would be able to access the compensation, despite claims from doctors that he was at risk of turning back to drugs.

Because of this concern, Mr Hewitt's mother, Nataliene Hewitt, stepped into the legal proceedings as a litigation guardian in case her son was found not eligible to get the cash.

Mr Hewitt, 36, has been promised $1 million in damages after he was injured in a crash in February 2006.

He also received a "significant sum" of money after an accident in 1996, which he spent mainly on drugs.

"As one psychiatrist has said, the receipt of the lump settlement sum then appears to have fuelled his addiction," Justice McMeekin said.

His court judgment said Mr Hewitt used marijuana when he was 14-years-old, heroin by the time he turned 17 and amphetamines leading up to the 2006 accident.

Justice McMeekin said evidence had caused lawyers concern but that Mr Hewitt had not taken drugs for many years.

He said Mr Hewitt did not have an impaired capacity that would allow a court to give the money to someone on his behalf.

"What exists here is a potential impairment, not an actual one," Justice McMeekin said.

He said Mr Hewitt could consider the concerns which psychiatrists had expressed and could take steps to put the money into a trusted person's hands.

The NewsMail contacted the family for comment, and were contacted by the family's solicitors who urged the NewsMail not to publish the story, due to the attention it may bring their client.

Topics:  bundaberg supreme court editors picks

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