Fraudster mum and daughter pair’s talent for trouble

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Mother and daughter talent agents who racked up a string of offences while living in Queens­town trashed a $450 a week house before disappearing back to Australia. 

Landlord Alec Asquith alleges about $10,000 worth of damage was caused to his four-bedroom Sunshine Bay home after he let it to fraudster Courtney Elice, 21. 

“Every single room in the house was ruined by animal faeces and urine and pile damage,” he says. 

Asquith claims Elice and other tenants – apparently including her mother Sandi Alexander, 43 – also blocked toilet drains and when heavy rain fell after they left, his ground floor was flooded with raw sewage. 

Asquith says insurance will cough up for most of the repairs – including replacing carpets and a broken window – but he’s not been able to let the house for two months, on top of alleged rent arrears of about $1600. 

Three days after letting the house in March, he was informed by local constable Sean Drader that Elice was bailed to his address. 

By then she and her mother were well-known to cops after arriving in the resort last summer. 

Following numerous complaints about their talent agency Tabitha Talent Management ripping off clients and creditors both in Australia and Christchurch, they were both convicted of drink-driving charges in Queenstown in February – after sharing the wheel. 

Elice was later sentenced to 225 hours’ community work for ripping off three hotels – two in town – to the tune of $2095, and got another 50 hours’ community work for unpaid fines. 

Wellington-based Asquith, 32, says it was stressful knowing Elice and her mum were in his house but he was determined to “follow the book”. 

He got a court order through the Tenancy Tribunal forcing Elice to cough up unpaid rent – but to no avail.
Asquith claims Elice forged his signature to reclaim $1800 in bond, and that the Department of Building and 
Housing was set to refund it – despite the unpaid rent – before he halted the payout. 

“After she’d forged my signature I went to the police. 

“I said, ‘Can you make sure she doesn’t leave the country?’ 

“They said they were going to block her at airports. Then I got a phone call a week later saying she’d already gone.” 

Constable Drader says he found Elice and her mother had already skipped the country, on June 9, before he’d spoken to Asquith. 

Asquith: “The frustrating thing was, you do everything within the law and at the end of the day you just get shafted. 

“It would probably be easier to give some rough guy $500 and say, just go and teach her a lesson.” 

The stress, and dealing with his insurance company, had partly spoilt his honeymoon in Italy, Asquith says. 

“[Elice and her mother] will be doing it to some other mugs in Australia, probably, as we speak.” 

Asquith is due today to talk again to the Tenancy Tribunal about getting his bond back. 

Last November, The Press in Christchurch reported a Rangiora couple who’d let their property to Elice and Alexander later found vomit, urine and faeces rom pets throughout their house.

Don’t be a victim

A Queenstown cop has advice on how landlords and employers can avoid providing accommodation or jobs to crims. 

They can insist house or job hunters provide their own criminal records, constable Sean Drader suggests. 

It costs nothing to request your criminal record from either the district court or via the Justice Department website, Drader says. 

“If someone won’t provide it, you can draw your own conclusions. 

“It might not work in every case, but it’s still a good idea.” 

No one else can access your record, Drader says. 

Apart from some exceptions, people’s criminal convictions are hidden after seven years, he adds.