A Dunedin man has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice after claiming in the Alexandra District Court last year he represented a transtasman equestrian firm willing to pay the reparation and fines of a Cromwell burglar.
Nicholas Birch has been summonsed to appear in the Alexandra District Court next week to face the charges.
The 29-year-old told Judge Michael Crosbie in the court on March 31 last year, that he represented the company Equestrian Services and Supplies and its owner was willing to offer a job to Fletcher Christian Dennis - who was being sentenced on six charges of burglary, one of illegally possessing a pistol and three of intentional damage - and pay the $25,000 reparations and $5000 of fines owed by him.
The owner of the equestrian company's son had been in trouble as a young man and was offered a second chance and he wanted to do the same for Dennis, Birch said. Judge Crosbie gave Dennis a discount for the starting point in his sentence because of the promise of the payments.
However, police investigated the offer when questions about its legitimacy were raised.
The Otago Daily Times understands Birch and Dennis served time in prison together and were both based in Otago Corrections Facility only weeks before the offer was made with Birch being released on March 12.
Detective Sergeant Derek Shaw confirmed Dunedin police served a summons to appear in court on a 29-year-old on Friday in relation to last year's offer, but would not comment on the man's identity.
"A 29-year-old Dunedin man has been summonsed to appear in the Alexandra District Court on 20 September, 2016, charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice following an alleged false statement and false representation during a sentencing on 31st March 2015," Shaw said.
"Given that the matter is now before the court no further comment will be made."
Approached last year by the ODT about the offer, Birch said he was "a friend" of the company's owner and he had no direct involvement with the company. "I'm not an employee and have never been involved with them," he said.
However, photos on the internet show Mr Birch wearing a jacket with a stylised Equestrian Services and Supplies logo dated from 2014 and a Facebook page touting the company's services has many photos of Birch wearing the same jacket and working with horses.
Asked last year if the offer was genuine, Mr Birch replied: "Of course it's genuine."
Birch told the ODT the company was based in Australia, had "race horses overseas" and was involved in breeding and farrier services with branches in Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland.
He said its owner was Russell Whittaker, however, attempts to contact him on a provided mobile phone number were unsuccessful and the name did not appear on the companies register as a director or shareholder.
Calls to those involved in the Australian racing industry also drew blanks and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission had no record of the company or its supposed owner.
The Ministry of Justice last month said it could not comment about whether Dennis' reparation and fines were paid because the matter was under police investigation.
"In general terms, the court will seek to ensure any fines or reparation are paid," a statement said. "If the offender has not paid, then the offender remains liable for it."
Dennis was granted parole in July with special conditions prohibiting alcohol and drugs, a daily curfew of 10pm to 5am and a requirement to participate in ongoing rehabilitative programmes.
Dennis is expected to have another hearing before the Parole Board later this year.