I am not one to air my dirty laundry, but all other avenues are closed to me. I have grave concerns that Judge John Bergseng was aware of Graham Dockrill’s (my ex-husband) actions, and I believe this calls into question his suitability as an ethical and fair judge.
As a new Mum, I want security and peace of mind so I can focus on navigating these challenging times. Having the deposit back, plus the income I contributed to our house, would help. And, it’s what the law in NZ demands.
Graham Dockrill; my ex-husband
We were married in January 2009, after being together for almost three years. We purchased our home mid 2009, with both our names on the title and the mortgage. Graham added me to his bank account so it was a joint account, and added me to his family trust, the Pleasant Valley Family Trust.
When Graham and I met, I had a car, a house full of furniture and possessions, and savings. When we purchased the house, I contributed as much as I could towards the deposit, my possessions and furniture were moved into our home, and from then on, my wages went into our joint account, from which the mortgage was paid. I always worked while we were married; I went back to uni and had a loan for the fees, but worked part time and also tutored for the university.
In short: I helped purchase our home, I paid towards the deposit, I paid the mortgage. I contributed financially, but also did 100% of the house upkeep and maintenance, as Graham frequently travelled and in general was out of NZ for about a third of the year.
Fast forward almost five years until the end of 2103, our marriage had seriously degraded and was not salvageable. A marriage is 50/50, and so is the end of it. I left him; went home and grabbed my clothes and my (pre-relationship) fifteen-year-old car, patted our cats Lucy and Lily goodbye, and left, to give him space.
I came to regret this. Graham changed the locks within days. He removed my access to all ‘our’ bank accounts (because originally they were only in his name, he could remove me as he wished), and cancelled my bank cards. By this stage, I stupidly no longer even had my own bank account, nor did I have enough forms of ID to open a new account. My wages were still being paid into our ‘joint’ account.
Luckily, after some cajoling, my previous bank let me open a bank account without the needed paperwork so I could at least start my life again.
His actions mean I haven’t even got my possessions back. He has gifts that friends gave me. My shoes. A cookbook that a friend (who has since died) gifted me. My piano (Graham does not play the piano). Despite my financial contributions to the house, that I had a houseful of furniture when we moved in together; I have had nothing back apart from my clothes, my pre-relationship 15 year old car, and sundry other items.
A long legal battle started that Graham initiated. My lawyers were problematic and expensive. After a few years of back and forth, Graham agreed to reach a settlement privately with me if I ended the proceedings. I was out of money to pay for continued legal fees ($150,000 at this stage) and desperate; after him promising, again and again, I dropped the proceedings. I have not heard from him since, despite repeated contact from me.
He has ‘legally’ removed me from the trust, the title of the house, and I have nothing except a huge lawyers debt. He has our freehold home, drives around in our $100,000 Jeep, has all our savings and shares.
If you ever want to do business with Graham Dockrill, this is the level of his ethics. I would consider, very hard, if this is the kind of person you can trust.
My big problem, however, lies with Judge John Bergseng.
Judge John Bergseng
John is Graham Dockrill’s cousin. He is signatory on the family trust, so he is aware of all the legal actions Graham has taken, has signed off on them, and approved them. He is also a NZ district court judge.
There are three options here.
- Judge John Bergseng does not know the relationship property laws of NZ
- Judge John Bergseng knows that I contributed to the deposit on the home, and paid the mortgage. Yet he has knowingly supported Graham’s actions.
- He does not know the intricacies of Graham’s actions, yet has signed off on everything anyway.
Do any of these options inspire any confidence in the man as a competent judge?
Graham Dockrill has done a number of unethical things, and Judge John Bergseng has signed off on this.
Is this the type of judge we want in New Zealand? Someone who appears to support circumventing the law, lying, dubious ethics, and perpetuating the broken system?
It’s an interesting time. While John Bergseng may not be a ‘high-ranking public official with a 35 year old son’, I do wonder what kind of morals and ethics we expect our judiciary to have.