'Ned Kelly' loss costs half million
A TWEED Heads accountant who once tried to stand for Federal election under the name Ned Kelly has left Tweed ratepayers more than half-a-million dollars out of pocket after a four-year court battle with Tweed Shire Council.
Terry Sharples, who lost a battle with the Australian Electoral Commission in 2001 to stand under the name Ned Kelly in the seat of Richmond, has declared himself bankrupt after failing in a lengthy court battle against council rate rises.
Mr Sharples took his battle against rate rises approved by the NSW Government in the council's seven-year plan all the way to the High Court after losing his first challenge in the NSW Land and Environment Court in 2008.
After going through the NSW Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, then the High Court, Mr Sharples declared himself bankrupt on August 23 this year.
Yesterday he told the Daily News certain lawyers - understood to be those used by a company engaged in other legal battles with the council - had failed him while the council pursued him for costs which they did not need to do.
"Lawyers failed me. They never brought the Minister (for Local Government) into court," Mr Sharples said. "The minister relied on his department to put up a bull...t statement and he got off free.
"Tweed Shire Council never had to pursue me but they wanted to and they did."
Mr Sharples repeated an earlier claim, previously rejected by council staff the council "offered me a job to drop the whole thing".
Senior council staff said more than $138,000 in court costs so far awarded by the courts remain unpaid, with High Court costs still to be assessed. They say the council's court costs to date have hit $489,137.
Yesterday Tweed Mayor Kevin Skinner vowed to try to recover the costs "even if that means selling his house some time in the future".
"Everyone that may have been in support of the idea he (Mr Sharples) was fighting for their democratic right in challenging the rate rises should be very surprised he is costing the council this much," he said.
"We've got to find the funds. It's half-a-million dollars less in the barrel to do any infrastructure that needs to be done."
Cr Skinner said he believed if someone was going to take a council or government body to court, "they should have to prove they can pay the costs if they lose".
Former mayor Warren Polglase said: "There's very little chance of us ever getting the money back."