Beverage magnate Stefan Lepionka has won the latest court round in an ownership battle for a multi-million-dollar property development near Havelock North.
In 2014 Mr Lepionka paid a deposit of $463,000 to GLW Group for several planned sections on the Tukituki River's Horseshoe Bend.
When GLW defaulted on its $2.6 million mortgage Mr Lepionka bought the mortgage off Westpac to protect his deposit.
Mr Lepionka could not complete his 2014 deposit-paid purchase agreements because of caveats placed by Andy Coltart, who sought compensation for work on the development with GLW. The Black Barn co-founder lives in the property's original homestead and designed the property's only other building, Lepionka Lodge.
Mr Coltart had an option to buy the homestead from GLW and made an offer to the Lepionka mortgagee company to purchase the whole property for $6.93 million, which was declined, and the Lepionka mortgagee company successfully applied to the High Court to remove Mr Coltart's caveats so it could sell his home of more than 10 years.
Mr Coltart appealed to the Court of Appeal which ruled in his favour, saying the Lepionka mortgagee company was arguably not entitled to cancel Mr Coltart's agreement to buy the homestead and the mortgagee company actions "invite the inference that its predominant purpose was to secure collateral advantages for the Lepionka purchasers, not to recover its loan".
The Court of Appeal said the matter should be argued in the High Court but Mr Coltart settled with Mr Lepionka, allowing Mr Coltart to finally secure his homestead home.
In February former GLW Group former director Garth Paterson (bankrupt in New Zealand and Australia) asked the High Court in Auckland for orders to sell the remaining 22ha to a trust belonging to a neighbour of the disputed property, Warren Ladbrook.
In her recently-released judgement Justice Mary Peters supported Mr Lepionka's opposition to the sale because it would predetermine a central issue of a case to be heard in July. Her judgment said Mr Paterson wanted to sell the land to Mr Ladbrook for $4.5 million, which Mr Paterson said would be a better result than if the land was sold to Mr Lepionka. She said it was it was not "sufficient reason for denying the defendants the right to argue their case before the court".
"Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that the land will not be able to be sold after trial on terms as good as those offered now if the plaintiffs succeed at trial."
As part of the proposal to sell the land to Mr Ladbrook, Mr Paterson asked the High Court to order Mr Lepionka from the lodge, where Mr Paterson would live rent-free for six months.
Justice Peters did not make the order but said Mr Paterson's possessions from the lodge should be returned.
When he became mortgagee in possession Mr Lepionka hired security firms to prevent Mr Paterson from re-occupying the lodge but called them off when Mr Paterson was bankrupted in Australia.
Mr Paterson visited New Zealand a year ago and gained entry to the lodge. Mr Lepionka arranged for the electricity to be cut off but the lineman was allegedly bitten by GLW owner/director Liz O'Neil. The former wife of Mr Paterson, she was charged with assault to injure.
Mr Lepionka hired Denis O'Reilly to take back possession of the lodge. Mr O'Reilly is an anti-drug campaigner, programme facilitator and said he maintained a relationship with Black Power to help with his social work. He said the relationship played no part in his re-occupation of the lodge when it was vacant.
Mr Ladbrook, a property developer, told Hawke's Bay Today he was not party to court proceedings and originally tried to purchase the property in 2009 from the Ormond family.
He said through an associated entity early last year he made offers to GLW to purchase all or part of the property and since September made similar offers to Mr Lepionka.
"Both parties claim to have the ability to deal with the property," Mr Ladbrook said.