Overstayer fights for manor despite owing rent
MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
One of New Zealand's longest overstayers is fighting not only to stay in the country but also to remain in his commercial premises.
Failed businessman Harmon Wilfred, who has lived in Christchurch since about 2001 with his Canadian heiress wife Carolyn Wilfred-Dare, is the director of a company which leased Wigram Manor, formerly the Air Force Officers' Mess in Wigram, from 2009.
The company fell into rent arrears last year and by February this year owed about $130,000.
In March, the High Court granted the Christchurch owners Kaiwan Gan and Juzhen Yu possession of the premises and Wilfred has since battled to delay the effect of the High Court decision and to overturn it.
In the latest chapter, the Court of Appeal this month rejected Wilfred's bid to stay his eviction until his full appeal could be heard. Wilfred says he will appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal said the key factor in the case was the company seeking to stay in possession without paying any rent despite promising to pay.
If the company had wanted the status quo to be preserved "it was reasonable to require payment of rent in the meantime and especially where there were arrears and no present proposal to clear those".
The court awarded costs against Wilfred and the appellants.
Wilfred told The Press the case involved alleged due process and civil rights breaches committed by the courts and did not want to comment further.
Wilfred renounced his United States citizenship in 2005 over alimony payments and other issues.
He claims to have been a CIA contractor who was persecuted after he exposed a big CIA fraud.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ), which served a deportation order on him two years ago, wants to send him on his way but says it needs a country that will take him.
Acting INZ fraud and compliance manager Dean Blakemore said Wilfred had been unlawfully in New Zealand for more than eight years.
INZ had been discussing Wilfred with American authorities over "facilitating" Wilfred's return to the US.
"It is clear that his current position as a stateless individual is an impediment to him being allowed entry into the US," Blakemore said.
"Wilfred has no legal status in New Zealand and he has been told that he should leave the country as soon as possible."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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