York restaurant duo win £1m on lottery - Judge orders they share prize after bitter legal fight
A YORK waiter dreamed of winning the Euromillions lottery - and scooped the £1 million jackpot the very next day.
Fatih Ozcan, who waited tables at the Kapadokya Turkish restaurant, in George Hudson Street in York city centre, thought his financial troubles were over when he bought the winning ticket.
But he ended up at the centre of a venomous legal dispute after his boss, Hayati Kucukkoylu, claimed the glittering prize for himself.
The row led to threats and police involvement - but now a top judge has ruled the warring pair are entitled to £500,000 each.
Judge Mark Gosnell said Mr Ozcan 'had a dream' on the night of January 29 2012.
"He dreamt that he was holding a large bundle of cash and, standing in front of him, was his boss.
"Mr Ozcan is a strong believer in the power of dreams and interpreted this to mean that he and Mr Kucukkoylu would win the lottery".
The following day, Mr Ozcan '"pestered" his boss for three hours before he finally agreed to enter the Euromillions lottery, said the judge.
It was the dreaming waiter who went to a nearby supermarket and bought the ticket which yielded riches beyond his wildest dreams.
However, once Mr Kucukkoylu, 47, heard the happy news, there were celebrations in the restaurant and he claimed to be the sole winner.
He insisted that the stake money was his - having come from the restaurant's till - and that he alone had chosen the winning numbers.
But Mr Ozcan was adamant that it was his dream that prompted the win; he had paid half the stake and that some of the number choices were his.
Fearing that Mr Kucukkoylu would cut him out of his share, the waiter phoned Camelot and the police, falsely accusing his boss of stealing the winning ticket from his pocket.
Three days after he learnt of the win, Mr Kucukkoylu was arrested in his restaurant and held in police custody for around nine hours.
And, when he returned from the police station, he discovered that Mr Ozcan had left his grace and favour flat without leaving a forwarding address.
Mr Ozcan admitted he had lied to the police and Camelot, but said his boss had threatened him and he was 'fearful for his safety'.
That set the scene for a seven-day High Court hearing at which Mr Kucukkoylu hotly denied his former employee's right to any part of the winnings.
However, after viewing a series of increasingly angry texts between the pair and CCTV footage of events in the restaurant as the winning slips were filled in, the judge ruled that each man was entitled to half the windfall.
Describing it as a 'troubling case', he said Mr Ozcan was 'an admitted liar', but he also had 'concerns' about the reliability of Mr Kucukkoylu's account.
The CCTV footage strongly suggested that both men had shared the task of choosing the winning numbers and that each had paid half of the £9 stake.
Ruling Mr Ozcan's story 'inherently more plausible', the judge said: "I cannot see why he would be so determined to make his employer play if he was not directly to benefit.
"It is much more likely that he would badger his employer for hours if his dream was that they had played together and he needed his employer to play for the dream to come true "I prefer the evidence of Mr Ozcan on the determinative issues".
The judge added: "I find that Mr Ozcan had a dream which involved him and Mr Kucukkoylu and a large sum of money.
"Mr Ozcan pestered his boss into playing the lottery with him....they contributed equally to the purchase price of the ticket".
Although Mr Ozcan gave his boss the lottery ticket, he kept the receipt and the pay slips.
The judge said that, after Mr Ozcan challenged his boss, Mr Kucukkoylu 'became angry and threatening and swore at him'.
The restaurateur had also 'through intermediaries attempt to persuade Mr Ozcan to drop his claim'.
Judge Gosnell concluded: "I find that the effect of these conversations was that Mr Kucukkoylu and Mr Ozcan entered into a contract to jointly play the lottery on an equal basis.
"There should be a declaration that the prize money from this winning lottery ticket should be shared equally between Mr Kucukkoylu and Mr Ozcan"