A Sydney GP who was left tens of millions of dollars by a patient has denied striking a deal with the man to keep him out of hospital if the doctor was included in his will, during civil proceedings in the New South Wales supreme court.
The court has heard Raymond McClure altered his will twice in the five months before he died with Dr Peter Alexakis eventually left 90% of his estate worth more than $30m.
Previous wills – the first of which was made in 1986 – made the Salvation Army and other individuals, including a longtime business partner, the benefactors of McClure’s estate.
The Salvation Army’s legal secretary, Gary Masters, is challenging the validity of the final will in the NSW supreme court arguing that it was executed in suspicious circumstances and that Alexakis had undue influence over McClure. The will is also subject to multiple cross-claims.
McClure, who had few family or friends, died aged 84 in November 2017.
Alexakis says he had no knowledge McClure included him in the will and that he never discussed the extent of his estate with his former patient.
Alexakis said during a hearing this week it was the second time he had benefited from the will of a patient which had been finalised by solicitor Angelo Andresakis – the lawyer who assisted McClure prepare his final will.
Andresakis also acted for the GP’s wife, who Alexakis told the court owned at least 17 properties, including eight shops, a bowling alley and a large office complex in Chester Hill, and a five-star hotel and four other properties in Greece. Andresakis had also prepared Alexakis’s father’s will.
But Alexakis denied he directed the solicitor to ensure McClure made the will in his favour. He said he introduced Andresakis to McClure after his patient told him he wanted to get his affairs in order.
Andresakis is expected to give evidence later in the hearing.
McClure had been desperate to leave hospital in mid-2017, saying he felt as if he was in prison. He referred to himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, according to evidence heard during this week’s hearing.
McClure had previously left hospital without being medically discharged. He had believed belongings had been stolen from his hospital room and complained about the television. He did not trust hospital staff, the court heard.
Alexakis agreed he knew McClure wanted to leave hospital and he had wanted him to help. McClure suggested on multiple occasions the GP help him return home and offered $10,000 if he assisted, the court heard. But there was no evidence Alexakis accepted that offer.
The GP denied he made a deal with McClure to help him on the condition he alter his will.
Alexakis agreed once McClure returned home it had been difficult to adequately care for him.
He broke down in tears on Tuesday when describing his efforts to look after McClure in his historic Strathfield mansion.
He had agreed that McClure was the sickest patient he had treated, but denied he was determined to keep him out of hospital simply because he had struck a deal to be included in his will.
McClure had a variety of health problems including diabetes, colorectal cancer that had metastasized, a bowel obstruction, prostate enlargement, cataracts, and lymphedema.
“That’s the frustration I had managing this man at home,” Alexakis said, before breaking down.
“I’m a team player, not an individual. I can’t do this work on my own, it was impossible.
“Personally, I did what I could for that man to keep him at home, so he could enjoy his life at home the best he could. I’m immensely proud of … the work I did to keep him out of hospital.”
Alexakis had been McClure’s GP since 2014, but the court heard he stopped acting in this capacity after a telephone conversation on 27 October 2017. He denied he was aware McClure became “scared” of him after this point and that between October and November he once visited McClure’s home and shouted at him “I’m still your friend, I’m still your friend”.
The court heard Alexakis has had strict conditions placed on his medical registration by the Medical Council of NSW since McClure’s death, including conditions preventing him from conducting home or nursing home visits and limiting the number of patients he sees each day. The GP denied evidence provided by another witness that McClure had told them he changed his will after speaking with Alexakis about the Salvation Army’s links to child sex abuse.
Alexakis said he had never discussed changing McClure’s will with him, and when asked why a witness had given evidence to the contrary, said: “Someone’s lying, but it’s not me”.
The hearing before justice Trish Henry continues.