An independent valuation of a backpackers' accommodation owned by sex offender Michael Harris is needed before a decision is made on whether the property should be forfeited to the Crown.

Harris, 58, last year admitted drugging male guests who stayed at his Main Street Lodge backpackers in Kaitaia before "spooning" them, and taking intimate photographs.

His sentencing cannot proceed until the Crown's application for forfeiture application is dealt with.

A hearing on that application was to have been held before Justice Anne Hinton in the High Court at Whangarei last week but could not proceed as preliminary issues needed to be sorted first, including the value of the property.


ASB is owed $700,000 secured over the lodge as well as an adjacent building but neither Harris nor the bank can sell them because of a restraining order taken under the Proceeds of Crime Act. That order expires on July 21.

The Crown is seeking forfeiture of the lodge only on the basis it was used by Harris to commit the offences against his guests rather than it was obtained from the proceeds of crime.

Harris bought both buildings in January 2012 for $1.4 million and Crown prosecutor
Bernadette O'Connor told the court last week it was difficult to know their current value unless a valuation was done.

She said during Harris' sentencing, the court could take into account any forfeiture orders made to determine issues such as reparation.

Ms O'Connor applied for the court to order an independent valuation report before the issue of forfeiture was decided. Sentencing could then proceed, she said.

Harris' lawyer Wayne McKean and ASB oppose the Crown's application for forfeiture.

Mr McKean said Harris accepted there was going to be a mortgagee sale either of both properties or only one.

Harris has been waiting 10 months for sentencing and tried to sell the properties after police laid charges against him but couldn't due to the restraining order.

There were many examples of sexual offending that took place in churches, schools, and clubs but they were not forfeited, he said.

ASB lawyer Mihai Pascariu said the bank as a mortgagee was entitled to sell both buildings without a court order.

He said the court did not have jurisdiction to direct sale in a particular way.

All parties will return to court on June 22 when a hearing date is expected to be set.

Harris has admitted 12 charges of stupefying his victims, one of attempting to stupefy, 15 of indecent assault, seven of making an intimate visual recording, and seven of possessing an intimate visual recording.

The charges relate to 17 overseas backpackers and one indecent assault charge involves a 15-year-old boy.