Real estate agent's threat appeal dismissed

By Aaron van Delden -
Hume is guilty of threatening to injure a complainant, knowing his conduct was likely to intimidate. Photo / File
Hume is guilty of threatening to injure a complainant, knowing his conduct was likely to intimidate. Photo / File

A Wanganui real estate agent's appeal against his conviction and sentence for making a threatening phone call to his former employers has been dismissed.

William Charles Hume, 53, was convicted and fined $750 after being found guilty earlier this year on one count of threatening to injure a complainant, knowing his conduct was likely to intimidate.

The charge related to a brief call Hume made on July 27, 2011, to his former workplace, the Wanganui franchise of Remax Real Estate.

The call was answered by the agency's co-owner, Jean Palmer-Holmes, who complained that Hume said: "I'm coming to get ya. Pay me, ya bastards, I'm going to kill ya both."

But during an appeal hearing before Justice Robert Dobson in the High Court at Wanganui on Monday, Hume's lawyer Stephen Ross asked the court to consider whether Ms Palmer-Holmes misinterpreted or misheard Hume, given his strong Scottish accent.

Hume suggested he had simply asked to speak to someone else in the office, his girlfriend.

At the time the call was made, Hume was involved in a dispute with his former employers Ms Palmer-Holmes and her partner Dale Vanderhoof.

He believed they owed him $30,000 in commission earned while working at their agency.

Mr Ross said that during Hume's defended hearing in April, no weight was given to any potential motive for Ms Palmer-Holmes to make a false claim.

A conviction could threaten Hume's career by affecting his ability to hold a Real Estate Agents Authority licence and bring into question his credibility during proceedings to recover the money he believed he was owed.

Further submissions were made regarding the analysis of evidence provided by a witness to the phone call at Hume's defended hearing.

Mr Ross suggested that evidence had not established whether the witness, Remax employee Steven Price, observed the entire incident, even though it was considered he had seen the whole episode and his evidence was viewed as reliable on that basis.

Mr Price had described the phone ringing, Ms Palmer-Holmes answering it and seeing her reaction of great distress to the short call.

Justice Dobson said he would consider the hearing's transcript before making a decision, which he released yesterday.

His judgment rejected the criticism of Mr Price's evidence.

Justice Dobson said it was garnered in the context of a relatively small office and a reliance on it was justified.

He said Judge Dugald Matheson, who presided over the defended hearing, had acknowledged Hume's concern regarding the motive behind Ms Palmer-Holmes' complaint "but did not treat it as a factor requiring him to disbelieve the complainant when, on the totality of the evidence, he was satisfied that her version was made out".

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