Man spent over $200k on phone sex

A WARWICK man who spent more than $200,000 calling sex chat lines will continue to have his finances managed by the Public Trustee of Queensland, after a decision by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) this week.

Documents released by the tribunal show the 79-year-old man – whose identity has not been disclosed – came to the attention of authorities in 2006 after his family raised concerns about his decade-long habit.

In a sign of the times, evidence tendered to QCAT showed the man compulsively called the 1900-number sex lines in a bid to deal with loneliness.

The Public Trustee was appointed as administrator of the man’s finances four years ago, a decision he later challenged unsuccessfully in the Supreme Court.

The man then applied this year to have a friend manage his affairs instead, but QCAT refused and confirmed the continuation of the Public Trustee in the role.

In its decision, QCAT ruled the man did not have the capacity to handle his own finances after he admitted he had secretly bought a mobile phone and was continuing to make chat line calls.

According to a doctor who interviewed the man in May, the man said he knew how to circumvent the block on his home telephone preventing 1900-calls but had not made any since March 2008.

The QCAT decision said while medical evidence showed the man had "mild frontal lobe dysfunction" and was "vulnerable", there was "no evidence of cognitive decline" on his part.

It also said he had demonstrated that he could "resist the urge" to make the calls.

He was also adamant that his sex line spending never jeopardised his well-being or that it was beyond his financial means.

The interviewing doctor concluded the man was capable of managing his finances and suggested the repeated calls were a voluntary "self-indulgence" in which he no longer took part.

But when he took the stand at the Toowoomba hearing of QCAT on August 10 and was questioned about his habits, he confessed he had purchased a mobile phone to get around the supervision of the Public Trustee.

The tribunal heard he had made frequent calls as recently as two weeks before the hearing with his largest monthly bill being $700.

The man told the hearing he had a "lady friend" whom he regularly called and that he believed she was 37 and living in Bundaberg.

He said he was planning to move there with her in the days following the hearing.

After hearing the new evidence, the man’s lawyer sought to withdraw his application, on the grounds he could no longer argue the man had the capacity to manage his own finances.

The tribunal agreed and said the Public Trustee needed to remain in charge for his own protection.

It found the man was vulnerable to exploitation as his judgment and insight were "profoundly impaired".

The published decision said the calls had caused "substantial prejudice to his financial circumstances, the severing of his marriage relationship and the ongoing damage to relationships with his children and grandchildren".

"However, it is more to the point that (he) continues to make the 1900-calls, in the belief that they will lead to relationships with the women to whom he speaks, and particularly, a woman named ‘P’.

"Time after time he has been easily led into placing his trust in people he has never met, and consequently making decisions about his life (and specifically his finances)."

The Public Trustee will allow the man to manage some of his day-to-day affairs and investments, while providing supervision and support to safeguard his estate.


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