Court hears arguments over Molenaar's estate
The credibility and character of Delwyne Keefe, the partner of Napier gunman Jan Molenaar, came under fire in the High Court at Napier today when his family challenged her bid to be the administrator of his estate.
Keefe, who has been convicted of offering to sell cannabis and possession of cannabis for supply at Molenaar's house on the day of the shooting, and selling cannabis over a period of more than five years, is due to be sentenced on December 4.
Molenaar's family, including his 19-year-old son Maddison, are opposing Keefe's appointment as administrator of his estate, which includes the freehold house in Chaucer Road, Napier, which was the scene of the fatal shooting of one police officer and the wounding of two others in May this year, leading to a 51-hour siege.
Last month Justice Judith Potter issued a restraining order in favour of the Solicitor-General over the house and more than $90,000 in cash and bank deposits.
The Solicitor-General can apply for all the assets to be forfeited to the Crown after Keefe is sentenced.
Appearing for Keefe, lawyer Ingrid Squire said the fact that Keefe had pleaded guilty to three charges involving the misuse of drugs did not constitute special circumstances that warranted her being passed over as administrator in favour of another party.
Disagreements between family members over estates were not uncommon and in this case, the key issue related to paternity.
Keefe had previously said that Molenaar had denied Maddison was his son and while that matter had not been resolved, it was not an obstacle to the estate being distributed.
Nathan Gray, appearing on behalf of the family, said a birth certificate showing Jan Molenaar as the father of Maddison was prima facie evidence of paternity, compared to "hearsay evidence" from Keefe of what the dead gunman had told her.
"She stands to get the whole estate if the son (Maddison) is knocked out of the equation," he said.
While Keefe had not been charged with fraud, she had received the domestic purposes benefit for eight years while also living off the proceeds of a commercial cannabis operation run by Molenaar.
She was potentially facing a custodial sentence on drugs convictions which would raise difficulties if she were to be appointed administrator of the estate.
Mr Gray said the Public Trust in Napier had indicated it would be prepared to take on that role as an independent third party.
"She won't be disadvantaged. If she's due any money she will get that through the Public Trustee, as will other creditors."
In reply, Ms Squire said paternity was not the issue and was a factual matter that would shortly be resolved.
Keefe would be obliged under the Administration Act to treat Maddison even-handedly and to administer the estate according to the law.
While the appointment of a third person, such as the Public Trustee, might sit more comfortably with the family, the issue was not one of comfort.
Keefe's competency to administer the estate was not impaired by issues of mental disability, solvency or being a minor. As Molenaar's partner, Keefe was "first in line", said Ms Squire.
Justice Pamela Andrews reserved her decision on Keefe's application.