Neighbours from hell for 20 years

By Staff Reporter


Neighbours of a property at 15 Ikitara Rd, Wanganui East say they have had to endure continual bad tenants in the past 20 years with no help from the landlord, who could be fugitive John Gordon Abbott.

Though the house is now untenanted, one resident said until recently they have had to put up with bad language and unsociable behaviour from tenants and the deteriorating state of the building.

The neighbours said they frequently called the police - who arrived quickly - over domestic violence at the house.

Some residents of the street want the house, which had been split into flats, pulled down.

The house is owned by a John Gordon Abbott.

A man with the same name and similar history is the prime suspect in a murder in San Francisco in 1980, and also has convictions for armed robbery, attempted murder and assault.

The house is the former Willis homestead, built in the early 1900s for a member of Parliament. The main house hasn't been tenanted for a while and the last tenant in an outbuilding left recently.

"He was a good boy, but the only one," an Ikitara Rd resident commented.

One elderly neighbour, who spoke directly to John Abbott about the trouble at the house, was told by him that if they did not stop complaining he would put "people in they would not like living there". "She was frightened after that because she felt threatened," the Chronicle was told.

In July 2004, eight homeowners on Ikitara Rd petitioned the council and requested it "take urgent action to require the owner of the property to substantially upgrade or remove/demolish the buildings", because of its "lack of maintenance and dilapidated appearance and ongoing deterioration".

The Environmental Services Business Unit manager at that time explained that 15 Ikitara Rd did not "create a health problem, however, the accumulated rubbish was a matter which the council's officers would take up with the present residents".

The council spoke to the person who managed the house for its absentee owner, who was expected to return to Wanganui from overseas in August 2004, at which time the owner would make a decision on the future of the house.

The property manager at the time agreed that the run-down house provided low-quality accommodation and required it to be cleaned.

The chairman of the 2004 environment committee suggested that 15 Ikitara Rd, with its rotten weatherboards and leaking guttering, fell short of the building code requirements and asked if the owner could be served a notice to rectify the problems.

The environment manager explained that in the case of a private property, the council could not act until the property became unsanitary.

He said the "property would require a full assessment and the council would have to be aware of considerable detail before issuing any notice".

And in the case of missing spouting, its effect would have to be detrimental to the neighbouring property.

Cr Barbara Bullock suggested that the landlord "may be failing to meet the standard required of a tenanted property".

Councillors generally agreed that the council officer should discuss the state of the property and its future with the property's manager, and that "if action could be taken by the council or another agency to cause an improvement in the state of the property, then enforcement action should be considered".

Eight years on, the two-storied house remains dilapidated.

John Abbott owns other property in Wanganui, Waverley and Patea and is now believed to be living in Japan with his Japanese wife and children.

The neighbours last saw John Abbott at the property scraping paint off the dilapidated house, before a story in Investigate magazine in March last year made a link between crimes in the US and the Wanganui property owner. He was at the property with his wife and a child, and has not been seen since.

The neighbours said "he just did enough" to the house.

A resident said the house had been on the market several years ago but did not sell. "The house is only good for firewood. Forget about its history - its recent history is not nice."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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