Man loses bid to keep doctor's house

16:00, Mar 21 2014

A Canterbury man who raped his estranged wife 14 years ago has lost his bid to claim ownership of a dead friend's home.

Ijan John Beveridge has been ordered by the Court of Appeal to vacate the unit in Division St, Riccarton, previously owed by former University of Canterbury psychology lecturer Dr Mark Byrd.

Beveridge, 57, will also have to pay rent costs for the more than two years he has occupied the flat since Byrd's death.

The orders were made in a Court of Appeal decision released this week. The bizarre legal wrangle started after Byrd died in January 2012, leaving Beveridge nothing.

Byrd's will named four beneficiaries of the estate, including a former psychology student turned Anglican reverend who was also named executor.

She tried to evict Beveridge so the property could be sold. However, Beveridge refused.


Beveridge argued Byrd, a former colleague who visited him in jail, verbally gifted him the unit before his death by saying, "It's yours".

Beveridge had lived free in the flat since his release from jail in 2008.

He had also assisted Byrd with day-to-day tasks after Byrd's poor health left him a paraplegic.

Beveridge lodged a caveat over the property seeking ownership transferred into his name.

A High Court judge found Beveridge had "arguable claim" to the unit, which the reverend appealed.

The reverend's lawyer, Ross Armstrong, said she was "enormously relieved" the Court of Appeal had ruled in her favour.

"We won, so that was good," he said. "It's caused a lot of stress."

Armstrong said as long as Beveridge paid the rent costs and her legal fees, as ordered by the court, the saga was largely over.

He said they would seek $350 for every week Beveridge had lived in the flat since Byrd died.

The flat would be sold and the proceeds divided among the beneficiaries of Byrd's estate.

Beveridge yesterday declined to comment on the Court of Appeal decision, but previously told The Press he was a "different person" and was "taking steps to rebuild his life".

Beveridge spends most of his time in Akaroa, where he works.

He served half of a 12-year jail term for the attack on Robyn Beveridge, at their remote Kerrilea farmstay homestead, west of Darfield, in 2000.

He gagged, bound and raped her, and held a knife to her throat.

The Press