A young Auckland family are the latest to be left out of pocket by a man who has a history of criminal and dishonest offending dating back 30 years.

The Taylor family paid Helensville builder Grant Norman King $23,500 to build a sleepout for their sick grandfather at the back of their Glen Eden home - only for the project to be quashed by council inspectors in November because it did not have a permit. The family have yet to have any of their money, paid as a 75 per cent deposit to King, returned.

A Herald on Sunday investigation shows King is bankrupt and does not have consent from the Ministry of Economic Development to be self-employed. The ministry is checking to see if King has breached his bankruptcy conditions.

King has been declared bankrupt three times, in 1991, 2005 and 2010, when he owed around $90,000 to six creditors.


Court records show that in the 1980s and 1990s King served a prison sentence for receiving stolen goods, lured "gullible" investors into handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars, and was taken to court by his insurance company after claiming compensation when a commercial building he owned was gutted by fire.

Now he's in trouble again, admitting to the Herald on Sunday that he went ahead with the Taylor family's sleepout knowing that the necessary building consent was not in place.

Steve and Deborah Taylor doubt they will see their $23,500.

King says that because Steve Taylor cancelled the building contract, he is entitled to claim deductions for materials bought, and labour. But he refused to provide receipts for the materials.

When asked if the Taylor family would see their money again, he said: "Steve Taylor did not want to sort it out. He didn't give us a chance to, he immediately went on the offensive and demanded a full refund."

Meanwhile, Taylor's father, who is 76 and hoped to recover from a heart attack close to the family, is living alone in a neighbouring suburb.

Court documents show King's offending goes back to at least 1982 when, at age 27, he was jailed for receiving four stolen vehicles.

In the 1990s King committed offences under the Crimes Act 1961 and the Securities Act 1978. According to court documents, he placed advertisements in newspapers offering securities to the public without a registered prospectus. Four people invested a total of $100,000, and wealthy American Joseph Simonetta put in $270,000.

In 2010 King was fired from Rocna Anchors after the company owners discovered he had withdrawn thousands of dollars from the company credit card here and overseas. Criminal charges were dropped after it was deemed to be a civil matter.

Rocna Anchors' former co-owner Steve Banbury said King caused an irreparable split in the family and the business was eventually sold for considerably less than it was worth.

King said yesterday he was unaware he was being investigated by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Asked about his checkered past, King said: "I have nothing to say about that."