Funds from lodge sale may be for­feited to Crown

The Northland Age - - Local News -

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.

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