Acting Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Ex-mayor in Belgrave case paroled three years shy of jail sentence

Hugh Hamilton was described as a polite prisoner. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Hugh Hamilton was described as a polite prisoner. Photo / Sarah Ivey

A former North Island mayor who intentionally facilitated crime by providing legal help was a "polite" prisoner and has been released on parole with three years still to run on his jail sentence.

Hugh Edward Staples Hamilton, who did legal work for failed finance company Belgrave, was found guilty in 2014 of 14 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship. Hamilton, a former Central Hawkes Bay mayor, was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail.

Belgrave's 2008 collapse left more than 1200 investors $22 million out of pocket.

A former partner of DAC Legal who was struck off as a lawyer in 2013, Hamilton advised Belgrave Finance until its receivership.

Belgrave made around $12 million of loans to entities effectively controlled by property developer Raymond Schofield.

Those loans breached Belgrave's debenture trust deed, the rules dictating the terms and conditions between investors and the company accepting the funds.

Hamilton was found to have knowingly assisted with the offending by carrying out instructions to execute related-party loans.

He was also found to have knowledge of the offending.

The former Waipukurau Rotary Club president "presented well" when he came before a parole board earlier this year.

"He is a mature, compliant and polite prisoner who has a minimum security risk. He was struck off as a lawyer as the result of his offending. He says that he will not become involved again with any legal activity or financial involvement," the board said.

Hamilton also obtained his forklift operator's licence while in jail.

"We do not see him as an undue risk to the safety of the community. We believe he can now be released into the community on parole," the parole board said in a March decision just released to the Herald.

- NZ Herald

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