Woman accused of biting

By Patrick O'Sullivan

2 comments
An alleged assault at the house in the foreground is the latest twist in a multi-million dollar property tussle. The house above is the home of Black Barn co-founder Andy Coltart. Photo / Duncan Brown
An alleged assault at the house in the foreground is the latest twist in a multi-million dollar property tussle. The house above is the home of Black Barn co-founder Andy Coltart. Photo / Duncan Brown

A female company director is accused of biting a lineman who was disconnecting the electricity to a multi-million dollar property near Havelock North.

Elizabeth O'Neil, 49, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault with intent to injure in relation to this.

Lines company Unison was asked to disconnect the electricity at a Kahuranaki Rd house where on January 2 Unison said a lineman was confronted by Ms O'Neil after fuses were taken from a transformer.

Unison spokesman Danny Gough claims an altercation took place and the lineman received a bite to his hand.

Police say Ms O'Neil was arrested and charged with assault with intent to injure, to which she entered a not guilty plea.

She next appears in Hastings District Court on March 7 for a case review hearing.

Mr Gough said the lineman was "badly shaken" but was back on the job.

"We just carried out the duty as requested completely unaware what the circumstances were between the parties," Mr Gough said.

"Our primary focus is to look after our staff and it is just disappointing that when they are carrying out lawful duties as requested by customers that this type of thing happens."

Ms O'Neil was with Garth Paterson, a New Zealand businessman bankrupted in Australia and her ex-husband.

They were in a house with commanding river and mountain views, part of a proposed 24.3ha subdivision on the Tukituki River's Horseshoe Bend.

Ms O'Neil is the sole director of GLW Group, which has its name on the property title.

She replaced Mr Paterson who as a bankrupt is forbidden to be a company director.

When he was director of GLW Mr Paterson used the house as a holiday home.

High Court documents reveal Charlie's Juice Company co-founder Stefan Lepionka agreed to purchase four lots from the proposed subdivision and a deposit of $463,000 was paid.

GLW ran into financial difficulty and it defaulted on its bank loans, court documents state.

The documents show Mr Lepionka was worried he would lose his deposit, so Lepionka & Company and Investments bought the mortgage from the bank.

Companies Office documents reveal the Lepionka company took possession of the whole property under the Property Law Act in April.

The company's First Report by Mortgagee in Possession said $3.7 million was owed to it.

It also owed A$6.9 million in the form of an unregistered second mortgage to a third party, the report said.

Mr Lepionka told Hawke's Bay Today that on December 23 a burglar alarm was activated at the house.

A security firm responded which found Mr Paterson and Ms O'Neil present.

Mr Paterson said they were there legally but they received a trespass notice, which police declined to act upon, saying it was a civil matter.

Mr Lepionka, who plans to move his young family from Auckland to live in the house, said he has been forced to wait for the High Court to open so he can request an order for vacant possession.

The court has no scheduled sittings until February 2.

Hawke's Bay Today understands Mr Paterson was given special leave to visit New Zealand by the official assignee in Australia.

Last week Hawke's Bay Today was told Ms O'Neil was staying at the house but she did not respond to a message to contact the newspaper.

Hawke's Bay Today visited the house and found a man and a woman who identified themselves as Mr Paterson's brother and sister.

The brother was visiting for "a few days" but his sister was living at the house, which he said Mr Paterson and Ms O'Neil had "taken repossession of".

He claimed Ms O'Neil suffered extensive bruising to her arms from the alleged altercation with the lineman.

"I was quite shocked that the police would even consider continuing with the charges," the brother said.

The electricity supply was restored to the house in Ms O'Neil's name and Mr Paterson returned to Australia, he said.

Mr Lepionka said he wished to continue with the subdivision but a final hurdle was the removal of caveats from the title, placed by Black Barn co-founder Andy Coltart.

Mr Coltart worked with Mr Paterson on the subdivision in its early stages but the pair fell out with each other.

Mr Coltart has lived with his wife in the property's original homestead since 2010 and they face losing their home if the caveats are removed.

In August Mr Lepionka's company successfully argued in the High Court for the caveats to be removed, allowing a mortgagee sale to proceed, but Mr Coltart appealed the matter to the Court of Appeal. The case will be heard next month.

Next month an application to the High Court in Napier by Lepionka & Company Investments Ltd, to liquidate GLW, is due to be heard.

Mr Lepionka said many local businesses had joined the action.

"We have creditors coming out of the woodwork all over the place and they are going to court next month as well - there are lots of Hawke's Bay people who have been burned."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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