Billionaire Gerry Harvey has settled a court case involving a dying woman he wanted evicted from a home she shared with her late de facto husband – the entrepreneur’s 50-year-old friend.
Peggy Luker was due to face the retailer at a hearing on Monday but was unable to continue the case because her health had deteriorated so badly.
The terms of the settlement could not be disclosed, but a representative for Mr Harvey, 82, confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that the lawsuit was closed.
“Mr Harvey is very pleased that the matter has been resolved and wishes Peggy Luker all the best in the future,” the representative said.
‘No further comment will be made as the terms of the settlement are confidential.’
Billionaire Gerry Harvey was trying to evict a dying woman from a home she shared with her late de facto husband, who was a friend of the entrepreneur for 50 years. Mr Harvey, the co-founder of Harvey Norman, is pictured with his wife Katie Page
Peggy Luker lived rent-free on a property in Kurrajong, 75km northwest of Sydney, with her longtime partner Garry Dent for eight years until he died in 2017 at the age of 80. Mrs Luker and Mr Dent are pictured
Ms Luker’s lawyer, Chris Crawley, told Daily Mail Australia his client had issued a death-at-home notification certificate.
“Unfortunately, Peggy Luker had to be cross-examined and was unable to pursue the case as her health had deteriorated and she was hospitalized again last weekend,” Crawley said.
Ms Luker lived rent-free on a property in Kurrajong, 75km north-west of Sydney, with her long-term partner Garry Dent for eight years until he died in 2017 at the age of 80.
Mr Dent had worked as a contractor for Mr Harvey for 15 years before his death, and Harvey co-founder Norman, who now has an estimated fortune of $2.83 billion, delivered a eulogy at his funeral.
Ms Luker had claimed she believed until Mr Dent’s death the house they shared belonged to her partner, but Mr Harvey told her shortly after the funeral to “move out and get the pension”.
She fought an eviction notice issued on Mr Harvey’s behalf by taking G Harvey Nominees Pty Ltd, the trust listed as the owner of the property, to the NSW Supreme Court.
Mr Harvey had asked Mr Dent to help him subdivide 40 acres of land (pictured) he bought with his first wife in 1972 and intended to sell as 15 individual lots
Ms Luker was afraid of being thrown out of the house and feared she would be living on the streets.
Mr Harvey, who was sympathetic to Ms Luker’s circumstances, said in an affidavit that he never gave the house to Mr Dent and intends to sell the property.
Ms Luker explained she only found out the property was still in the trustee’s name after Mr Dent’s death – at the same time Mr Harvey said he had learned Ms Luker believed it belonged to her.
After years of argument, Mr Harvey visited the property in June 2020 to persuade Ms Luker to move out, The Age newspaper reported last year.
According to Mr Harvey’s affidavit, he told Ms Luker: “Maybe you can get on a housing commission or something. Surely you have a plan B?’
Ms Luker had a failed kidney transplant eight years ago and developed skin cancer from drugs she was taking to stop the organ from being rejected.
Doctors told the now 68-year-old there was nothing they could do to stop the cancer from spreading to other parts of her body.
Ms Luker said Gerry Harvey told her partner Garry Dent the couple could live on this property rent-free and then take part of the profit when they sold it
Ms Luker stated in an affidavit made on her behalf that Mr Dent was a property developer who had been friends with Mr Harvey for around 50 years.
“The deceased worked for the Harvey Norman group of companies and on the general interest of Gerry’s various businesses until the age of 80 when he died unexpectedly,” the document reads.
Ms Luker and Mr Dent – who had three children from a previous marriage – had lived together for 23 years and to their knowledge he had died intestate.
According to their affidavit, Mr Dent solved a problem for Mr Harvey in 2001 when poor access to the car park of a Harvey Norman store in Penrith caused the business to lose money.
Mr Harvey then asked Mr Dent to help him subdivide 40 hectares of land he had bought with his first wife in 1972 and now wished to sell as 15 individual lots.
The land at Kurrajong had a 28-hectare sanctuary in the middle that was fenced to protect wildlife and had nature trails and a bike path.
An agent acting on behalf of Gerry Harvey sent Ms. Luker this eviction notice in June 2020. “There is no written lease or license agreement between you and the landlord with respect to your use of the property.”
According to Ms Luker’s affidavit, Mr Dent advised Mr Harvey he could attract buyers by building a luxury home on one of the larger vacant blocks.
The old friends reportedly agreed that Mr. Harvey would spend $800,000 on this home, which Mr. Dent and Mrs. Luker would then live in and maintain until all the lots were sold.
When the first home on Patterson Lane was sold, Ms Luker said the couple would keep the difference between $1,300,000 and the selling price.
Mr Harvey stated in his affidavit that there was no legal agreement to share the profits from the sale and that Mr Dent had never complained about the situation.
A spokesman for Mr Harvey told Daily Mail Australia: “Mr. Harvey is very happy that the matter is resolved and wishes Peggy Luker all the best for the future.
When the house sold for $1,700,000 about four years after it was built, Mr. Harvey built another house on a smaller block for Mr. Dent and Mrs. Luker instead of paying the couple $400,000.
In her affidavit, Ms Luker said Mr Harvey had never increased Mr Dent’s salary from $5,000 a month in 15 years, but her partner told her: ‘He won’t agree to a raise, remember, we have the house. “
Ms Luker said Mr Harvey called to express his condolences when Mr Dent died and delivered a eulogy at his funeral in the chapel of Trinity Grammar School in Summer Hill.
Two weeks later, according to her affidavit, Ms Luker called Mr Harvey to “clarify the situation at the house” and he told her the originally alleged deal was “nonsense”.
Mr Harvey allegedly told Ms Luker that Mr Dent “is not his responsibility and she should move out and get the pension”.
Ms Luker said Mr Harvey called to express his condolences when Mr Dent died and delivered a eulogy at his funeral in the chapel of Trinity Grammar School in Summer Hill
Mr Harvey – “representing Harvey Norman where Garry worked for 15 years” – is listed as one of two speakers who eulogized at Mr Dent’s funeral
Ms Luker stated in her affidavit that she spent three years trying to resolve all of her issues with Mr Harvey before receiving notice to leave the property on June 18, 2020.
“You lived in the property as a rent-free tenant as you wished,” the letter says. ‘The landlord requires you to vacate the property on or before 10:00 am on August 20, 2020.’
Mr Harvey is Chairman of Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd, which owns retail giants Harvey Norman, Domayne and Joyce Mayne. He is also a well-known owner and breeder of racehorses.
Ms Luker sued Mr Harvey in the NSW Supreme Court after he tried to evict her from this property at 467 Greggs Road, Kurrajong, where she had lived for more than ten years
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11171717/Harvey-Norman-founder-Gerry-Harvey-settles-court-case-dying-widow-Peggy-Luker-tried-evict.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey likens the court case to the dying widow Peggy Luker he wanted to evict