Conman costs couple their home 13 years later

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2014
John and Rubina Pine
ANDY JACKSON/ Fairfax NZ

HOME GONE: John and Rubina Pine, of Otakeho, near Manaia, must leave their family home and ancestral land 13 years after a conman defrauded them out of thousands of dollars and left them mired in debt they have been unable to repay.

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Thirteen years after Taranaki grandparents Rubina and John Pine's family home was nearly stolen from beneath their noses a finance company is forcing them out.

ASL Mortgages Ltd has given the Pines until Friday to clear out of their Otakeho home near Manaia for defaulting on the loan they took out with it in 2004. In 2007 the couple owed $47,782 but just how much they now owe is in not clear.

Rubina yesterday acknowledged they had stopped paying ASL and had not be able to make regular payments in the past.

"We can't do it weekly because at times we are working three days a week, sometimes seven. That is the type of work we do. We work when farmers need us. They knew that all along," she said.

The couple said they had been forced into refinancing with ASL Mortgages in 2004, after becoming entangled in a nationwide property fraud case which cost dozens of people about $10 million in 2001.

The Pines became involved when they sought to borrow $36,000 from Cambridge mortgage broker Miles McKelvy and unwittingly signed their house over to the conman.

He then borrowed against the home and eventually went to jail for the crime but left the Pines tens of thousands of dollars in debt for a loan they said they never received.

In 2004 the Pines refinanced with ASL Mortgages to save their home. Their repayments were irregular and in September 2007 a legal ruling requiring the Pines to leave the house was issued by the High Court in New Plymouth.

On April 29 of this year lawyers acting for ASL Mortgages Ltd sent the Pines a letter requesting they vacate the property by May 16 as it intended to sell the home.

The reason was the loan on the property had been in default for "some time".

Acting for ASL, Neil Goodwin, of Hawera's Effective Debt Recovery Ltd, yesterday accompanied a locksmith and security guard on to the property. The locks were changed and the security guard will stay until the Pines leave the home.

The couple have nine grandchildren and said they could not bring themselves to tell them their ancestral home was lost.

Kieran Lomas, of Hamilton law firm Harkness Henry, which is acting on behalf of ASL, did not respond before deadline to questions about the case.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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