Rob Kidd

Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Donghua Liu makes eleventh-hour plea change

Donghua Liu. Photo / File / Richard Robinson
Donghua Liu. Photo / File / Richard Robinson

The Chinese businessman at the heart of a political scandal earlier this year has made an eleventh-hour plea change over domestic violence charges.

Donghua Liu, 54, appeared in the Auckland District Court this afternoon for sentencing on charges of assault with intent to injure, and male assaults female, but his lawyer Paul Davison QC told the court he would apply to vacate the previous guilty pleas.

Liu admitted at a hearing on April 1 to assaulting his de facto wife, Juan Zhang, with intent to injure, and assaulting her mother, Lunju Wang.

Judge Grant Fraser said the Crown opposed the plea change.

Since pleading guilty, lawyers representing Liu applied to alter the summary of facts in the case, to which Liu had already pleaded guilty.

Now the case will come back before court for a three-hour disputed-facts hearing in October when the parties will hammer out their differences.

Since his initial guilty plea, Liu has attended a course on stopping violence.

Barrister Todd Simmonds, who previously represented Liu, indicated he would seek a discharge without conviction.

At the start of the month, Liu also pleaded guilty to charges over building works carried out on two properties in Remuera and Epsom, together worth more than $6 million. He admitted two breaches of the Resource Management Act.

A Herald investigation revealed that Maurice Williamson contacted police about the domestic violence inquiry on Liu's behalf. Mr Williamson resigned his ministerial portfolios in May.

There was further political controversy in June over donations Liu said he had made to the Labour Party.

- APNZ

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