Cult leader’s house un­der the ham­mer

Sunday Mail - - NEWS -

IT sur­vived the end-of-theworld prediction made by its fugi­tive owner and now the home of Agape Min­istries dooms­day cult leader Rocco Leo will go un­der the ham­mer at auc­tion.

The 2258sq m prop­erty at 25 Hart St, Camp­bell­town, was opened for in­spec­tion yes­ter­day as part of a court-or­dered sale later this month.

It is ex­pected to sell for more than $1.5 mil­lion as part of Supreme Court ac­tion de­signed to re­pay the dooms­day cult’s cred­i­tors, in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice.

The Supreme Court heard last year that Agape Min­istries’ un­paid debt was now in ex­cess of $10 mil­lion.

Leo’s dis­tressed wife, As­sunta, was at home yes­ter­day when the Sun­day Mail at­tended the open in­spec­tion at 10.30am. There was lit­tle in­ter­est from among about 10 groups of peo­ple who vis­ited the prop­erty.

A real es­tate agent not linked to the sale, and who did not want to be named, said there would be sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est in the prop­erty be­cause of the land area, which is about four times the size of an av­er­age sub­ur­ban block in the Camp­bell­town area.

The Sun­day Mail was told Ms Leo, who be­came the reg­is­tered owner of the prop­erty with her hus­band in 1998, did not want to talk to the me­dia. “We’re told she has noth­ing to do with the (Agape) cult and like ev­ery­one else she is just clean­ing up the con­se­quences,’’ a rep­re­sen­ta­tive linked to the sale said.

The Hart St prop­erty was un­re­mark­able un­til it made na­tional me­dia in 2010, when the cult’s world came tum­bling down and Leo fled to Fiji where he cur­rently lives.

About 90 heav­ily-armed po­lice raided 12 prop­er­ties owned by the church, look­ing for three lead­ers, and il­le­gal guns and det­o­na­tors. The fivebed­room Camp­bell­town home, which in­cludes a ten­nis court and large back­yard, was ad­ver­tised in The Ad­ver­tiser’s realestate mag­a­zine yes­ter­day.

Rocco Leo could not be con­tacted yes­ter­day but, in the Supreme Court in March, his Ade­laide “mes­sen­ger”, Kathryn Con­der, said her leader would not at­tend court only be­cause he could not af­ford an air­fare from Fiji.

“Pas­tor Rocco is a man of God and he’s telling you that, if someone makes a de­ci­sion against whom­so­ever is a man of God, they will per­son­ally see the hand of God move,” Ms Con­der said.

“So it’s re­ally im­por­tant that peo­ple un­der­stand that to try to fight against the hand of God is fu­tile.

“To make a wrong de­ci­sion, well, the judg­ment of God can come down on a per­son’s head that very day.” In Au­gust 2010, The Ad­ver­tiser re­vealed Agape Min­istries’ fi­nan­cial em­pire spanned two states, in­cluded eight prop­er­ties and a fleet of 13 ve­hi­cles and funds in 10 sep­a­rate ac­counts.

Leo and his in­ner cir­cle have been named in sev­eral law­suits seek­ing the re­turn of money given to the cult.

For­mer mem­bers al­legedly had to pay up to $1.2 mil­lion each be­cause of fears Earth’s pop­u­la­tion would be im­preg­nated with tiny mi­crochips con­tain­ing their per­sonal de­tails.

They claim Leo said any­one who re­fused the chip would be branded ter­ror­ists and be gassed or be­headed in gov­ern­ment-run con­cen­tra­tion camps.

FUGI­TIVE: Dooms­day cult leader Rocco Leo and, right, his Camp­bell­town prop­erty and some of the rooms.

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