Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Man jailed for scamming council has most convictions quashed

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

One of the two men convicted for scamming the North Shore City Council has had most of his convictions quashed and no retrial ordered for them, in a Court of Appeal ruling.

Suresh Din and Hemant Kumar Maharaj were sentenced in the Auckland District Court last July for corruptly obtaining public funds from North Shore City Council.

Maharaj was convicted of 13 charges of dishonestly using a document, using a document with intent to defraud and perverting the course of justice.

Din was convicted of 18 charges of dishonestly using a document and using a document with intent to defraud.

Maharaj was jailed for two years and 10 months and Din was sentenced 10 months' home detention and 350 hours of community service following a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecution.

Their offending occurred over a period of about 10 years while Maharaj was working for the North Shore City Council.

The duo formed an agreement to invoice the council for road and berm maintenance work, however the work was never completed.

They used 151 invoices in their scheme, with Din submitting the invoices under the name of S Din Family Trust.

Din appealed against all his convictions on the basis that errors by his lawyer during the trial resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

Maharaj appealed against six of his convictions on the grounds that errors by his lawyer and the trial judge resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

He also argued his sentence was manifestly high as a result of the starting point being too high.

Justices Rhys Harrison, Patricia Courtney and Denis Clifford allowed Din's appeal against 11 of his 18 convictions and said because he had almost served his home detention sentence, they would not order a retrial.

But they dismissed his appeal against the remaining convictions, which related to money he received from the council.

The justices said because Din was advised by his lawyer not to give evidence during the trial and his lawyer erred in the type of defence available to him, Din was deprived of a fair trial.

They dismissed Maharaj's appeal against his convictions and sentence.

In regards to Maharaj, the justices said the sentencing judge's starting point was accurate considering his sustained effort to defraud his employer.

They dismissed his arguments relating to his convictions as having no substance.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 19 Sep 2014 19:28:47 Processing Time: 2011ms