Quadriplegic’s modified van seized by bailiffs

Quadriplegic’s modified van seized by bailiffs

Sudden injury left quadriplegic Una Tanginoa requiring 24 hour care. He says these days, his wheelchair and his modified van have become his legs.

Last year, bailiffs seized his van over unpaid rent owed by Mr Tanginoa and his family.

The modified van was worth $30,000, paid for through a lottery grant.

For Mr Tanginoa, losing the ability to leave the house in the van was like being locked up in jail.

In all started in October 2014, the court ordered the Tanginoa family to pay $5117 that they owed to their landlord.

Mr Tanginoa accepts the family owed the landlord money, but says the payments should have been coming out of his benefit.

In April 2015 -- when payments didn’t come through -- the landlord called in the bailiff.

Lawyer Soane Foliaki stepped in. He spoke to Corrections, who told him the seizure was reasonable. So Mr Foliaki went to court, where the powers that be quickly ordered the return of the vehicle, although they said they whole thing was not legally wrong.

But it gets worse -- Mr Tanginoa was using the van to get to doctors’ appointments.

Struggling to get by as a pensioner on an invalid’s benefit, Mr Tanginoa couldn’t afford to pay for a taxi, so he couldn’t get himself to the doctor.

An infection he had on his foot spread and he was rushed to hospital. He spent the night in ICU, facing the prospect of losing part of his foot.

The Tanginoa family say they are now repaying the debt, but the experience has been unsettling.

Mr Tanginoa doesn’t want anyone else in a wheelchair going through the same thing and he would love an apology.

Story asked Justice Minister Amy Adams for her view on the seizure of the disability vehicle. Ms Adams says while the bailiffs acted lawfully, she’s asked for a report on whether change needs consideration.

Watch the video for the full Story report.