Hart's neighbour takes property row to court

ROB KIDD
Last updated 14:35 06/09/2012
Barry Hart
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
FALL FROM GRACE: Auckland lawyer Barry Hart.

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Barry Hart's neighbour is one step closer to getting the land he bought off the disgraced Auckland lawyer nearly a month ago.

Former Rodney councillor David Steele, 75, and his wife Joy, 71, lived next door to Hart in Woodhill for more than 12 years and bought the 40-hectare property at a mortgagee sale for $800,000 on August 9.

However, since they bought it they have been kept off the land by a "Maori warden" and, most recently, convicted criminal Jamie Lockett, who described himself as Hart's "mate".

After a tense confrontation with Lockett last week, Steele took the matter before the High Court at Auckland, which ruled Hart was not allowed to make changes to the property.

Neither Hart nor legal counsel representing him appeared in court.

Steele hopes a second court hearing on Monday will get the high-profile Auckland lawyer off the land permanently.

Serving notice on Hart was proving to be a struggle though.

"He's quite good at being difficult," Steele said.

Without wanting to tempt fate, he said next week's court proceedings "should be straightforward" and he was determined not to let the issue affect him.

"I'm not worried, I'm just sitting back and saying 'sooner or later you'll have to give it up'," Steele said.

When asked for comment from Hart, a representative said he was "a private man wanting some space right now".

Lockett was still patrolling the property this morning.

Hart was found guilty of professional misconduct last month, including overcharging a client, and is currently awaiting sentencing.

He has also been engaged in a lengthy battle over ANZ National bank's attempts to claw back a $30 million loan secured by mortgages across the lawyer's Auckland properties.

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