Chapter 1. Who was Tom Jowett?
Not a great deal was known about Tom, except that which was disclosed to his friend Bruce Whiteside over the many years they conversed together on a range of subjects. This was to be expected as they were adjoining property owners, and after the death of Tom’s second wife Sheila in early 1996, their mutual friendship and trust grew, as would occur between a father and his son.
The story of Tom’s early life history as recorded by Whiteside in his writings on the subject of ‘Lawful Injustice ’, describes him as man who did not attract friends easily, could not tolerate fools, yet was a person who could be the epitome of kindness.
This became clear when he provided for the welfare of those with whom he had dealings in his later years. He did this by naming them in the many wills he was to make before his death in July of 2001.
Whiteside provides the history of Tom’s life as revealed to him in the following terms –
‘Not a great deal was known about Tom. There is fantasy, there is fact, there is pathos, there is joy, there is hardship, and there is courage’.
Tom was a Yorkshire man born on the 18th. March 1914 – he was one of a large family of eleven children, and by far the youngest. His father, a printer by trade, volunteered for service during the First World War and subsequently joined the Armed Forces in Malta in late September 1915. He was returned home nine months later and discharged suffering from influenza, pneumonia, and weakened by damaged lungs. He died in 1919.
Granted a widow’s pension from the Defense Department, Tom’s mother found it difficult to keep the family afloat, and so it was that Tom found himself delivering newspapers at the ripe old age of eight, for the princely sum of four pence per week.
In the late 20’s his mother accepted a job with the Presbyterian College in Montreal, Canada, and Tom who had travelled to Canada with his mother, later moved to New York where he found employment as a grocer’s assistant. Overnight the bottom fell out of his world. Wall St. crashed. When this occurred in 1929, he was not fully aware of the implications this might have on his job, until one day his employer called him in to his office to announce he would not be able to hang on for too long, before he like many others would have to shut up shop.
Thus began a new challenge for Tom, who by now had accepted the fact that his days were numbered as a grocer’s assistant, so upon accepting his final pay cheque and bonus amounting to some ten American dollars, he moved on to Ontario, Canada, where he teamed up with another young teenager. Together they sought work relentlessly, only to be told, ‘move on, there’s no work for the likes of you’.
Eventually they did find work on a farm, sleeping in stables and working long hours, but this was not the life Tom had planned for himself, so when his companion refused to leave with him, Tom made up his mind that he would escape from the harshness of his employer, and so he moved on. For the next five years he roamed the countryside of Canada by courtesy of the Canadian railway system, often jumping aboard and off moving freight trains.
He became a survivor, and relied heavily on the food and warmth provided by community welfare groups, together with the income derived from the odd jobs he was able to get.
As the depression began to pass, Tom was able to find more consistent work and love. He met and married a young English girl, and the following year they had a daughter, and eventually decided to return to England. So it was that in 1935 at the tender age of twenty one, Tom worked his passage back to London and found employment at a nearby Ford factory production centre. For a while he remained in a stable job, and was able to save sufficient money to provide the boat fare for his mother to return home also.
However the rumblings in Europe were growing louder, and when Hitler’s German army attacked Poland, it was only a matter of time before England itself would become involved. The wheels of industry began to change towards the manufacturing of war equipment including tanks, planes and ships. Like so many others, Tom answered the call to serve his country by enlisting with the Royal Air Force.
Five years later, after surviving the Battle of Britain and going through the war relatively unscathed, he was forced to bail out of his Hurricane fighter plane, only to be accidentally run down by a military vehicle that severely injured his spine. He spent several months in a repatriation hospital before being sent home.
It was during the war that he met, trained, and flew with the legendary Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader CBE., one of the most decorated heroes during the Second World War. Bader was attributed to having downed twenty two enemy planes, and was later awarded the DFC and Bar, and a DSO and Bar, amongst other citations.
Tom was now to become a bitter man. When he finally returned home, he found that his wife had been unfaithful, and his only daughter had died from German measles in 1943. He divorced his wife and decided to start a new life in Australia. Unlike many who came as ‘ten pound Poms’, Whiteside reports that Tom paid his own way, fiercely independent as always. It was some time later that he met a new love in Sheila, and soon after was to marry her.
He and his new wife eventually moved into a house backing on to the Whiteside’s home in Miami on the Gold Coast, and thus began an association which was later to lead to the trauma that followed, and which is the substance of this book.
In 1994 or thereabouts, Tom and his new wife were to meet up with Andrew Smyth, a solicitor working for the firm Robbins Watson, and this became the stage for what was to follow in terms of a rather tumultuous period between 1995 and the date of Tom’s death in 2001.
It all began very simply when the Mr. and Mrs. Jowett approached Smyth over the preparation of their wills. It was not a simple issue, as Tom in particular being rather headstrong and lacking in the art of clearly expressing his wishes, was apt to change his mind repeatedly without any real thought as to the costs, and consequences of his actions – they never had children of their own.
The relationship between Tom and the Whiteside family grew as they got to know each other better, so much so, that after Tom’s second wife died, and a new will made in 1996, he left 10% of his estate to them. This was the highest percentage bequest made, and it was ironic that in the final carve up of the estate, they were to receive nothing because of the determination of solicitor Smyth to challenge the only will he had not drawn up for Tom.
This he was able to do by using every trick in the trade that only lawyers can dream up, his principle plan being to ensure that Tom was certified as being incompetent, and lacking in capacity on the day in which he made his last will.
Dated 1 December 1999, that will left Tom’s entire estate to Bruce Whiteside, in recognition of he and his wife’s friendship and support during the last half of 1999.
In the trial to be held years later, it was revealed that Tom had been used by a woman who eventually accompanied him on a trip to the country for a two week holiday. Upon their return, it seems Tom had the strong belief that the person involved was using him to feed a gambling problem – he swore he would not have anything more to do with her, but revelations contained in later wills revealed Tom at one stage wanted to leave the bulk of his estate to her, thus showing his inconsistency when dealing with potential beneficiaries. The person concerned was later to be struck off all wills, thus highlighting his sudden change of mind that occurred with monotonous regularity.
In his latter years he had a fear of being institutionalized in a nursing home, and Whiteside always assured him that he would do everything in his power to see that this did not happen. He very much appreciated the loving attention given to him by Mrs. Whiteside, and constantly made reference to this fact. It was not only the friendship and caring attitude of the person in question, but also her willingness to often provide meals for him. During the early part of the year 2000, she agreed with her husband to take him into her own home, where both she and her husband Bruce were able to give him constant care and attention.
When Bruce Whiteside became deeply involved in a campaign he had embarked upon to make people aware of the property invasion by Japanese investors into the real estate market on the Gold Coast, Tom was eager to listen, and often gave his personal views on the subject.
Likewise, when Whiteside set up the Pauline Hanson Support Group, Tom was again happy to be a ready listener, and yet one able to put in his ‘pennyworth’ into any discussions that took place.
In spite of efforts by some to have Tom incarcerated in a nursing home, and despite the frustration and anger he felt along with the ongoing turmoil around him, he did not die abandoned, shunned, or without a soul who cared, as Whiteside was always by his side.
Tom died with friends around him on 6 July 2001.
His Death Certificate advised the cause of death as being due to bronchopneumonia, multi infarct dementia, and prior strokes. It is notable that in the Certificate, the doctor made reference to the fact that the duration of Tom’s multi infarct dementia had been prevalent for at least five years.
This is an important revelation which cannot be treated lightly.