Couple wants $4.7M for sewage, sinkhole 'nightmare'

A NEBO couple who claim Isaac Regional Council caused sewage to flow onto their property has been ordered to pay the costs of an unsuccessful court battle - for the fourth time.

Timothy and Christeen Woolnough applied to the Supreme Court in Mackay, claiming the council had trespassed on their property by installing sewage lines without consent in 2007.

Justice Duncan McMeekin said the couple, who appeared without a lawyer, said in a Statement of Claim that after the installation a sinkhole had appeared.

He said they'd stated that over years the sinkhole had worsened and that raw sewage "was coming up through our land when it rained".

They claimed that the land had subsided, which was having an effect on their highset house and causing health concerns.

The Woolnoughs said the council owed them a $4,789,426.30 debt, as they had sent a "bill" for "one cent per second for allowing sewage to leech onto our property".

"The stench was sickening and taking away any enjoyment of our land due to contamination," they wrote in the statement.

The couple said as the council had not responded to the bill, their silence equalled consent. Justice McMeekin said there was no basis in law for the council to owe such a debt.

The couple also asked for a $1,500,000 "penalty" for the "(loss) of liberty, harassment, verbal assault, (loss) of pay, travelling to Mackay for court..." They said they had suffered "two years of living a nightmare for nothing".

Again, Justice McMeekin struck out the claim. He said the couple seemed to "assume they have the right to impose a penalty on the defendant an in any amount they think appropriate. That is not the law".

Christeen Woolnough asked for $3,000,000 in compensation, saying that as a result of the proceedings she had been diagnosed with stress, depression, anxiety, chronic obstructive airways disease, reflux, high blood pressure and bowel problems.

Justice McMeekin struck out the claim, saying "stress resultant on having a legal dispute with a local Council is not, so far as I am aware, actionable per se".

The judge said the Statement of Claim was the couple's seventh attempt to plead their case in court.

He struck out the entire document, saying the couple had not pleaded their claim adequately, but that it had been "through ignorance and not malice".

The couple was ordered to pay court costs - the fourth time they had been ordered to do so.

Justice McMeekin allowed the couple "one more chance" to bring on an application and argue their case.

The couple have until the end of the month to provide an amended Statement of Claim.

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