A man facing dishonesty charges claims he was working for a Tauranga security firm to protect containers from the Rena - but a judge doesn't believe him.
The man, Richard Anthony Edwards aka Greening, 52, got a job as a security officer for a Rotorua security firm after he told them he was an army lieutenant and had Ministry of Justice approval to be employed in such a role, the Rotorua District Court has been told. It turned out it was a lie and he has 84 previous convictions for fraud.
Edwards has been sentenced to 23 months' jail after pleading guilty to two charges of fraud, one charge of theft of a motor vehicle and two charges of breaching prison release conditions. The court was told Edwards had 105 previous convictions including 84 for fraud.
Edwards went to Rotorua security firm Independent Security Consultants Ltd on January 15 and gave an employee an employment application. On the application Edwards said he had an extensive military background and was a person of good character. He put in the application and also said he held the rank of a lieutenant in the army and had a Ministry of Justice certificate of approval allowing him to be employed as a security guard.
The company employed Edwards, believing he was of good character and had Ministry of Justice clearance. The security consultant gave Edwards a $400 cash advance on his first pay. Edwards was also provided with a uniform, a vehicle and keys, door access codes and alarm codes to a large number of premises guarded by the security firm. When police spoke to him he admitted he had lied to get the job as needed it to support his family.
Between April 30 and May 23 last year Edwards presented 10 cheques worth a total of $6244.31 to four different Countdown stores in Auckland to pay for groceries despite knowing he did not have money in his account. He told police he believed he had entered into an agreement with the company to pay the money. He also said he was not aware the amount was so high.
In a separate incident in October last year, Edwards offered to fix a car for a person he had been introduced to through a friend. Throughout the time he had the vehicle the owner of it gave him $350 as Edwards needed money to fix the car. He had the car for a time before selling it for $400.
In his sentencing notes provided to The Daily Post, Judge James Weir said Edwards had told a probation officer he could pay reparation as he was now working for Nutech Security in Tauranga looking after containers that had come off the grounded ship Rena but the probation officer was unable to confirm his employment. "I just do not believe you for a minute... You have been unceasing in your fraudulent activities and you are a danger to society," Judge Weir said.
Edwards appealed the length of the sentence in the High Court at Rotorua last week but the appeal was dismissed by Justice Paul Heath after he found the sentence was not manifestly excessive.