Fraudster 'lucky' with lenient sentence

Appealing against his jail sentence, the man has been told by a judge that he is lucky he doesn't have his prison time increased. Photo / File
Appealing against his jail sentence, the man has been told by a judge that he is lucky he doesn't have his prison time increased. Photo / File

A convicted fraudster appealing against his jail sentence has been told by a judge that he is lucky he doesn't have his prison time increased.

The jail term handed down to John William Jackson, who defrauded a Canterbury air conditioning company of more than $500,000, was relatively lenient, Justice Raynor Asher told the fraudster during a bid to have his sentence reduced this week.

Jackson's appeal in the High Court at Auckland claimed there were errors in the statements by victims about how severely they were impacted by his fraud.

Jackson also made a claim that Serious Fraud Office prosecutors had guaranteed they would not oppose home detention for a guilty plea to his six charges, for which he was sentenced in March to two years and five months' imprisonment.

He was convicted for diverting into his personal bank accounts more than $571,340 of company money from Aire Res-Comm Limited, the business he was director and shareholder of.

The 62-year-old, from South Africa, faced six charges of accessing a computer for dishonest purposes after he misrepresented the transactions in company documents as payments to creditors.

Justice Asher reserved his decision on Jackson's appeal, but not before warning him his original sentence could have potentially been more severe.

"I took that money, I'm very sorry for doing that. It was a stupid mistake," Jackson, appearing via video-link from prison, told the court this week.

"I want to set the record straight that a lot of facts given by the complainants to make me look worse than I was were totally fabricated.

"I know ... what I did was stupid and $570,000 is a lot of money.

"I'm the one who's come out with nothing. I've been declared bankrupt, imprisoned, my family has suffered [and] now immigration want to deport me back to a country where I've got nothing and nobody.

"If the court says the [original] sentence is just and fair, I accept that. If they don't and they want to reduce the sentence, well and good.

"But, your honour, I just wanted to put my facts, which I feel are the true facts, forward to the court."

Some of the facts Jackson disputed included whether one couple who were victims were able to afford a house after the business collapsed.

He also said of that couple that the "money wasn't theirs to start with, it was owned by the company".

Justice Asher said: "[Your sentence] seems to me, Mr Jackson, to be very modest given that you have been found guilty of taking over half a million dollars, which is never going to be given back to these people.

"I'm not going to increase it but I'm just letting you know that I do have a bit of trouble with it. It seems quite low to me."

He will make his decision at a later date.

- APNZ

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