Convicted beekeeper completely misled employer

By Hana Garrett-Walker

Howes was adamant he told his employer David Whitehead the "unvarnished truth" at his job interview. Photo / Thinkstock
Howes was adamant he told his employer David Whitehead the "unvarnished truth" at his job interview. Photo / Thinkstock

A Northland beekeeper who was convicted of receiving stolen beehives lost his job after he did not reveal his full criminal history, including stealing geckos.

Justin Howes was told in June last year that his casual job with Kauri Coast Honey had come to an end but he complained to the Employment Relations Authority that he was unjustifiably dismissed.

An authority decision released today found Howes completely misled his employer, Goldenflow Trust, and he "materially contributed" to the circumstances giving rise to the personal grievance.

Howes, 22, was convicted in October on three charges of receiving.

The charges related to a total of 85 beehives worth $27,000 taken from beekeepers in Kerikeri, Wellsford and Kamo.

While that conviction was not referred to in the authority decision, member James Crichton said Howes had a "depressing criminal history for one so young".

Howes was adamant he told his employer David Whitehead the "unvarnished truth" at his job interview but Mr Whitehead said the full truth was never given.

Howes told Mr Whitehead he was charged with receiving stolen geckos, but in actual fact he was convicted of the theft of the geckos.

"Given the trust's evidence that they would not have employed Mr Howes if they had known the full extent of his criminal offending...it seems to the authority more likely than not that Mr Howes was not truthful when he gave his interview for employment."

In his complaint to the authority Howes alleged Mr Whitehead had hit him on various occasions.

"There were many times where David whacked me around the head with bits of wood and on one occasion with a bolt," he said.

Mr Whitehead denied these allegations and provided evidence from other employees.

Mr Crichton concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, the assaults did not happen.

Mr Crichton concluded that Howes "completely" misled the employer.

"Mr Howes would not have been put into the employment at all if he had told the truth and therefore there would be no employment to be dismissed from."

He was not entitled to any remedies.

In October, Howes was ordered by a district court judge to pay $7500 reparation and perform 400 hours of community work over the stolen beehives and in November 2010 he was sentenced to four months' community detention after he broke into two Northland wildlife sanctuaries and stole 26 geckos.

- APNZ

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