A TRUSTING dad has successfully sued his own son - and his son's mate - after they borrowed the family ute and wrote it off in a drunken rollover on the outskirts of Darwin.
Dennis Bamblett has been awarded $16,000 in compensation after his son, John Bamblett, let mate Dylan Taft make the drunken decision to borrow the ute, only for Mr Taft to veer off a straight stretch of the Arnhem Hwy.
The NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard Mr Taft was previously seen as "part of the family" and was at first willing to pay back the Bambletts for the written-off ute.
But in a decision handed down this week, tribunal member Mark O'Reilly said Mr Taft's early willingness to hand over money "after a time ... dissipated", prompting the older Bamblett to sue.
The tribunal heard Mr Bamblett had a standing agreement that his son could use the family ute "but only on the condition that he had not been drinking" and never gave Mr Taft permission to drive.
At a hearing earlier this month, Mr Taft and John Bamblett agreed they spent the afternoon and evening of August 12 last year bar-hopping around Darwin before deciding to take off on an impromptu hunting trip.
In statutory declarations, each of the young men blamed the other for their decision to get on the road after drinking, with Mr Taft saying he "only agreed to drive (the ute) at John's insistence ...". In a statutory declaration of his own, John Bamblett said: "I don't even know how Dylan got the keys to the car".
The men agreed they were both "intoxicated and over the legal blood alcohol limit for driving" on the night.
Mr O'Reilly said "nothing really turns on" who came up with the idea to go hunting.
"Together they chose to go driving in (the Bambletts') car when they were both unfit to drive," he said. "I am confident that if either of them had determinedly refused to go, they would not have gone at all." Mr Bamblett at first sued only Mr Taft but John Bamblett was added to the claim and agreed in a statutory declaration he was at least partly to blame.
"Dylan should also have to pay back my dad for at least part of the cost of the ute," he said. "I know that I got into the car with Dylan voluntarily and I know that I am responsible for replacing the ute for my dad, but I believe that it's a responsibility that Dylan and I should be sharing 50-50."
Mr O'Reilly ordered each of the men pay $8000 to Mr Bamblett. Mr Taft is disqualified from driving until March next year.
Originally published as Dad sues his own son after drunk crash
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