Funds from lodge sale may be forfeited to Crown
The High Court may decide how $100,000 left from the sale of the Kaitaia backpacker establishment formerly known as the Mainstreet Lodge will be disbursed.
The property gained national infamy after its then owner, 59-year-old Michael Harris, drugged and indecently assaulted 19 male guests there between 2005 and 2014. He was jailed for eight years in July after admitting all charges.
The lodge, which included the manager’s residence, was sold last year for $600,000, with a neighbouring building, also owned by Harris, going for $350,000 under a mortgagee sale. Harris was the sole shareholder and director of two companies that owned both buildings.
Just over $100,000 was left after ASB, as the mortgagee, and others were paid.
A hearing on the forfeiture of proceeds of the sale took place before Justice Edwin Wylie in the High Court at Whangarei last month, Crown prosecutor Bernadette O’Connor saying Harris’ offending began weeks after he bought the lodge in early 2012, and continued until his arrest in September 2014.
“But for the lodge, this would not have been able to occur. Considering the fact it was the lodge that drew [the victims] there, the Crown say forfeiture is appropriate,” she said.
Harris’ lawyer, Natalie Town, opposed the forfeiture application, saying her client had run a legitimate business, the vast majority of guests having no problems. Harris had not modified the business to gain access to his victims, and forfeiture would cause undue hardship to Harris when he was released from prison, as he had no other property or means.
Justice Wylie has reserved his ruling.
SOLD: Kaitaia’s former Mainstreet Lodge, now under new ownership and with a new name.