Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Defendant's obesity hinders fraud case

A man accused of defrauding would-be clients of more than $100,000 faces jail if he fails to turn up to court for a fourth time.

His lawyer says the man's ill health and obesity prevent him attending.

The 57-year-old, who has interim name suppression, was to appear in the Hamilton District Court this week to face 10 fraud charges over the alleged scams which police say took place between July last year and January.

But his lawyer, Michael Meyrick, asked that the man be excused because he was in Waikato Hospital with "catastrophically bad health".

Mr Meyrick opposed a police application for a warrant to arrest the man for his third successive failure to appear on the charges.

He said the accused couldn't "put milk bottles out without having a heart attack".

"He has heart failure and serious diabetes. He's grossly obese and has black legs from bad circulation.

"He's not going anywhere ... he's going to be bloody useless in custody with those medical conditions."

The man faces one charge of using a document for pecuniary advantage, eight charges of obtaining by deception and one of being a manager or director of a company while prohibited.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Brendon Bland said police believed the man could still be offending while he remained at large and they opposed bail for that reason.

Mr Bland said police wanted written proof from Waikato Hospital and not just the accused's word that he was in hospital, after he failed to appear in court in April and May for the same reason.

Community magistrate Jack Best said it was an unusual situation but he would excuse the man and make a file note that if he did not attend court next week, police would get a warrant to arrest him.

He asked Mr Meyrick to guarantee his client would appear on Thursday but Mr Meyrick said that although he would stress the importance of it, he could not assure the court the accused would turn up.

- NZ Herald

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