Julie Davis's son Stefan Woodward died at an Adelaide music festival. Now, a crowdfunding campaign for his funeral has only added to her pain.
Below is the full statement Today Tonight received from Stefan's friend Hayley Duckworth, who organised the campaign. Julie disputes several aspects of the statement.
I would once again like to thank you all for your kind donations to Stefan Woodward.
Together you helped to raise just over $9,000 towards Stefan’s funeral, memorial service and money for his family over the holiday period.
You may have heard allegations made against me stating that I misused the donated funds. These allegations are completely false and I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
The original intention of the ‘Go Fund Me’ account was to pay for the costs involved for giving Stefan Woodward the best send-off possible.
This was an agreement made with Stefan’s family and with their support Regan and I went ahead and helped them plan Stefan’s private funeral service that was held on Wednesday 16th of December 2015.
It was always our understanding that I would be responsible for the payment of Stefan Woodward’s private funeral using donated funds. This was also the arrangement with Simplicity Funerals.
On about 19 December I was contacted by a lawyer speaking on behalf of Mrs. Davis stating that Mrs. Davis has changed her mind and that she would like the total amount deposited into her account. I found out that Simplicity Funerals had been directed by Mrs. Davis not to provide me with a copy of the funeral invoice and they refused to provide me with any information or accept money from me.
I did not agree to transfer the funds to Mrs. Davis. My primary concern was that people had donated funds for a particular purpose, namely the payment of the funeral. As the person responsible for the ‘Go Fund Me’ account, I believe I had a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that those funds were directed as we had advertised on the donation page and, therefore, as the donors had intended.
Mrs. Davis refused to provide me with a copy of the funeral invoice so that I could pay it, despite several requests, over the course of more than a week.
I became concerned that Mrs. Davis did not intend to use the funds to pay for the funeral when I made several suggestions for payment, including meeting her at Simplicity funerals to pay the invoice, which were refused.
On the 6th of December at my home, we had a BBQ for Stefan. We received $2,250 in cash donations from Stefan’s amazing friends.
This $2,250 has been spent on the costs incurred for the BBQ and other things, including a payment to Mrs. Davis. I have kept meticulous records of this, which are being / have been provided to Mrs. Davis.
The money from the ‘Go Fund Me’ account was to pay for the private funeral and the remainder (if any) was to be given to Mrs. Davis for the holiday season. It was never my intention to keep these funds from Mrs. Davis. My only concern was to maintain the integrity of the donations, for people’s funds to be used as they expected. So, I held my ground and there was a delay of longer than I would have liked for the funds to go to their intended recipients. This was entirely out of my control.
Over the course of a week or so, where I was trying to reason with Mrs. Davis, I started receiving abusive phone calls and messages from friends and family of Mrs. Davis.
Mrs. Davis also put up a post on Facebook accusing me of stealing the funds you all raised, as well as acting fraudulently.
I also have several comments on the ‘Go Fund Me’ page calling me several disgusting names and making false allegations. I can only assume these were intended to pressure me into handing over the money to Mrs. Davis.
The comments on the Facebook post Mrs. Davis posted has escalated to a point where strangers are asking for my address and threatening to harm me.
Mrs. Davis went to the police to report me for theft and fraud – these reports were never taken because no theft or fraud has taken place.
One particular member of Mrs. Davis’s family encouraged people to look up my details and harass me.
By Christmas time I had resolved to return the donated funds, because I could not guarantee that they would go to their intended recipients. But I decided to make one last attempt.
Finally, on 27 December I attended at Simplicity Funerals with the intention of paying for the funeral with or without Mrs. Davis’s permission. Thankfully, for whatever reason, she agreed and the account was paid. I have now transferred the remaining funds to her.
I can only hope that the unfair abuse directed at me now stops.
I have NOT stolen any money. I have NOT been fraudulent. I have at all times done what I believed to be right and in the best interests of everyone concerned.
I set the fund up because I know funerals can be very expensive and our intention was to take the financial burden off of Stefan’s family.
Stefan was all of our best friend and brother. Everything we have done has been for him.
I please ask that you respect my privacy and not engage in abusive emails, messages or any type of aggressive social media with regard to this.
I trust that this explanation helps you to understand what I have been through. Each of you can decide for yourself whether you agree with my actions.
Thank you for taking the time to read my statement.
Hayley Duckworth and Regan Hunter.