Cheryl Hall thought her late husband’s prized Lamborghini Espada was still in the shed of their country New South Wales property, but it had been stolen and advertised at a ridiculously low price months before she even noticed it was missing.
In a bizarre twist, the buyer of the stolen Lamborghini attempted to appeal the case in the NSW Supreme Court, claiming he was now the rightful owner, despite the fact he had paid a mere $32,500 for the vehicle. Nearly one-tenth of the vehicle’s estimated worth.
Keith Hall, Cheryl’s late husband, died in March 2015. The vehicle was left to Cheryl in his will, who stored it in a shed on her rural property on Mitchells Island near Manning River.
Some time after his death, the vehicle was stolen and transported some 300km away, where it was advertised for sale over the course of 2015 for a mere $70,000. In February 2016, it was purchased by Charles Chelliah for half the asking price, despite that being already around $160,000 under estimated market value.
Mrs Hall noticed the missing vehicle in June 2016, at which point the police contacted the “lucky” buyer and stated it was suspected to have been stolen property.
Mr Chelliah complained that there was no securities interest listed on the vehicle on the Personal Property Securities Register, obtained a roadworthy certificate and then issued the vehicle with historical registration.
After taking these steps, Mr Chelliah surrendered the Lamborghini to police.
Once the police had the vehicle in their possession, proceedings were brought to the local court to determine who the rightful owner of the Espada indeed was.
The magistrate highlighted the “objectively suspicious circumstances” surrounding the transaction and noted that, given that Mr Chelliah was a “highly experienced individual in the purchasing and selling of classic cars”, he most certainly should have been aware that the sale price was at least suspicious.
She said it could “not be readily accepted that a person of such experience would believe they were legitimately obtaining a car, supported by documents which were unconvincing”.
Mr Chelliah attempted to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, claiming that his interest in the car overruled Mrs Hall’s since there was no notice of claim against the vehicle.
In his judgment, Justice Peter Garling found that Mr Chelliah had no right to the vehicle, stating “The dispute was about the absolute ownership of the Espada in circumstances where Mr Chelliah, who was not acting in good faith, purchased or purported to purchase the vehicle from a vendor who did not have title to it.”