Fair Go: Te Kuiti man’s kindness backfires after paying $4k up front for deck at his disabled mum’s home

For most of us a deck is a place to enjoy a meal, watch the sunset, or just get some fresh air, but for Antonio Mangioni-Ashby and his mum Sarah Asby, the deck is a lifeline.

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Fair Go went looking for answers from the builder, and to get back some of the $4000. Source: Fair Go

You see Antonio’s in a wheelchair, his mum was too.

They needed a deck they could enjoy but that could also get them safely in and out of their Te Kuiti home via a wheelchair lift.

So last year the pair hired Hamilton builder Grafton Mark to build them a deck, instead he basically took their money and ran.

“I trusted them because I trusted the brother who did the fence. Mum trusted them because they were good and said their prayers,” says Antonio.

But turns out the only goodness there was from Sarah and Antonio.

When they heard Grafton was struggling ahead of Christmas, they decided to pay him the whole amount he quoted for the job – $4000.

In return all they got was some holes in the ground and string.

Sarah Ashby, died in June. She was a community leader, founding the town's foodbank, volunteering for Victim Support and receiving a QSM for her services to the community.

Antonio told Fair Go he never told his mother about the missing money before she died.

"I think it would have broken her heart to know what they’d done."

Instead getting nowhere with Grafton, he hired another local builder and paid another $4000 – this time, though, the job was done and Sarah got to enjoy the deck before she died.

After finally getting hold of Grafton, he told Fair Go he was sorry and that he’d had a breakdown.

"Oh probably a mental hole. I was going through a few things at the time," he said, adding, "I am not going to blame anyone, bro. I have been let down by myself probably. Poor decision making."

Grafton also told Fair Go this is the only job he has had trouble with and he intends to pay the money back.

"It's all my fault and I'll take the full brunt.”

Whether he lives up to these promises is yet to be seen. Antonio told Fair Go he’s devastated and feels sad and embarrassed for them and their families.