The father of a British teenager who survived 12 nights in the Australian bush is locked in a feud with his son over the money made from television appearances, he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Richard Cass, 54, said the relationship with his 19-year-old son Jamie Neale had turned “murderously nasty” over the cash he received for recounting his story.
The Mail on Sunday said Neale received £50,000 (US$82,000) for the television contracts they both signed, but the teenager has yet to hand over Cass’ slice of the money.
The Londoner became lost on July 3 in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
“I feel I have been robbed by my own son. I was so glad when he was found but it’s gone from being such a feelgood thing to being murderously nasty. The son I found isn’t the son I went out to look for,” Cass said.
“I’m not sure if we’re going to be on speaking terms for a very long time,” he said.
“He knows he’s got to give me some of the money and I will be happy. I want him to make that step that will enable us to reconcile. I feel terrible that this dark incident has now blighted Jamie’s return from the dead,” Cass said.
“I would back down in that I don’t want to lose contact with him but it would gnaw away at me. I feel betrayed,” he said.
Cass said there was “an argument in Australia that says why should taxpayers pay for very expensive searches for idiots who don’t take proper precautions,” adding: “I feel tremendous sympathy with that view.”
Neale’s story made headlines around the world. Not yet well enough to fly, he is expected to remain in Australia for a further six to eight weeks.
The teenager said: “I do not plan to get into a public slanging match with my father and will deal with any issues in private.”
“I had an agreement with him regarding his involvement in the 60 Minutes interview — he wanted his flights and the rescue party paid for,” he said.
“I agreed to that and intend to honor that commitment. I am yet to receive the 60 Minutes money — it is due next week — but what I do with it is a matter for me,” he said.
Some Australian news Web sites carried comments accusing Neale of staging his survival feat to secure a lucrative media deal but the teenager said his extraordinary story was not a hoax.
He set off for a solo hike on July 3 but got hopelessly lost, eating only seeds and weeds with just a lightweight jacket for warmth in freezing overnight conditions.