A Whangarei businessman who lied about disposing off a laptop after the High Court ordered they be returned to their rightful owner has been found to be in contempt of court and ordered to pay more than $22,000 in a fine and costs.

Jake Bernard Fannin, former director and manager of Global Kiwi which traded as Global Diamonds in Rathbone St, Whangarei, was fined $5000 - with $3000 to go to Global Kiwi - and ordered to do 120 hours community work for the contempt. He was also ordered to pay $17,500 to cover Global Kiwi's legal costs.

Fannin owned 25 percent shares in Global Kiwi, his father-in-law Barry Trass owned 50 percent, while another person had the rest. Due to a breakdown in relationship between Fannin and Mr Trass, the former resigned as an employee in November 2012.

In February 2013, Global Kiwi successfully sought a High Court order that Fannin return a laptop, two tablets, a docking station, a monitor for the docking station and laptop, and a company mobile phone. He later handed over some of the equipment.

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Fannin then signed handwritten notes for the court, saying he disposed off the laptop "in the Whangarei rubbish dump". In March 2013, he filed a statement of defence in the High Court and repeated the claim.

However, in August 2014, police executed a search warrant at his home and work place and found the laptop in a preeminent place in his living room. Fannin said in defence that he was confused about the court order and initially thought it was to do with an ownership dispute.

"The terms of the (court) order were quite clear. Mr Fannin, in a calculated way, thought he could get away with it. This was deliberate defiance at the outset," Justice Peter Woodhouse said.

The judge said it was not the most serious case of contempt to have come before the courts.

Fannin submitted an apology in court for having "technically committed contempt of court".

Fannin's lawyer David Grindle said a formal finding of contempt would be sufficient to mark the offending.