Two witnesses who played a key role in helping prosecutors convict a wealthy and prominent businessman will avoid the prospect of prison, despite the Crown considering them "guilty".
Hamish Jevan Goulter and his friend and business associate Allison Edmonds were today revealed as the two immunity witnesses in the trial of a rich-lister, who was found guilty last week of indecently assaulting three men and twice attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Both gave evidence with the protection of immunity from the Crown at the High Court, where the businessman's manager was also found guilty of attempting to pervert justice.
Goulter is known for his work in political circles, including both major parties, and has been connected to some of New Zealand's wealthiest individuals.
The long-time friend of Destiny Church co-founders Brian and Hannah Tamaki hit the headlines when he was fired as the campaign manager for their political party Vision NZ after a hate-filled rant against a TV host on Facebook last year.
When Goutler gave evidence during the rich-lister's trial, Hannah Tamaki was sitting in the public gallery as his official support person. The pair were seen riding electric scooters to and from court each day.
Goulter operates a public relations firm, Goulter & Associates, which claims on its website to provide "PR and strategic communications counsel" and be associated with several high-profile people.
It was these connections and one particular political figure, who has interim name suppression, which the rich-lister told his jury attracted him to using Goulter & Associates.
The businessman claimed he needed the firm to manage potential reputational damage after hearing rumours he would be named in Australia media after being first charged in February 2017.
"[The political figure] was someone who was very good at solving public relations problems," the businessman said.
However, the rich-lister was instead hiring Goulter & Associates to deploy dirty tactics to dissuade an indecent assault complainant - the first of the three victims to go to police - from maintaining their allegations from a night in October 2016.
"The whole notion we were going to Australia to stop media from publishing something is ridiculous," Goulter, better known as Jevan, told the court.
It was one of two attempts to stop the case before an initial trial, scheduled for September 2017.
The first involved Kiwi entertainer Mika X meeting with the victim at an Auckland cafe in April 2017 and offering a $15,000 bribe. He was sentenced today to home detention after pleading guilty to two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The second - with Goulter and Edmonds - would become known as the Gold Coast plot.
A deal with the Crown
The PR duo's evidence about the elaborate efforts in May 2017 came after they brokered a deal with the Solicitor-General in exchange for immunity.
Talks about protection for the pair began in late September 2017 after police disclosed to the businessman's lawyer they were investigating efforts to pay-off the complainant.
Their evidence, the Crown contended, and eventually two recordings was vital to secure the convictions against the businessman, his manager and Mika for their roles as the "instigators" of the Gold Coast plot.
Goulter and Edmonds also both told the court during the trial they knew their actions to aid the businessman had serious consequences for themselves.
"What I did was wrong and potentially criminal," Goulter said.
He engaged a top defence lawyer, Ron Mansfield, who "made it very clear to me that what we did was wrong" and began exploring immunity.
Mansfield helped secure the pair protection, with Goulter later telling the court: "I have co-operated with the police from the moment they have engaged with me and I have been truthful … I don't think anyone wants to go to jail."
Crown prosecutor Simon Foote QC also told the jury while Goulter and Edmonds' evidence was important for his case, it was also incriminating for the pair.
"The Crown considers them guilty," Foote said.
'If we put that in your account you'd retract your statement?'
Goutler and Edmonds' roles in the businessman's efforts to bribe the victim were unveiled during the trial.
It started for them in early May 2017 when Mika approached Goulter, whom he has a long-standing personal relationship with.
Mika told Goulter he had a benefactor who needed help and asked his friend to meet the businessman's manager to discuss potential solutions.
The trio came together and discussed how they could convince the victim, a young man now living in Australia, to withdraw his police complaint.
Goulter was quick to point out it wouldn't be cheap. He quoted an initial fee of $30,000 to obtain his services, the court heard, and the next day Mika said the proposal had been accepted by the businessman and his manager.
Further meetings were held over the next couple of weeks to discuss a scheme for Goulter to travel to Queensland and meet with the victim face-to-face. The manager also assured Goulter not to worry about payment because his boss had "dollars in the bank".
Further payments were made to Goulter, either directly from accounts linked to the businessman or via an entity associated with his manager. In all, the transfers totalled $56,000.
On May 21, 2017, the conspirators launched their mission.
Goulter, Edmonds and Mika flew to Brisbane - the plan was to offer the victim a work contract, endorsed by the businessman, in exchange for the police complaint being withdrawn.
Goulter and Edmonds posed as talent agents from New York to lure the victim to the meeting on the Gold Coast.
Known for being flamboyant and having a predilection for the appearance of wealth, Goulter and the others spent thousands of dollars shopping, a spa suite at the five-star Palazzo Versace hotel, and a chauffeured Bentley, financial documents show.
When later confronted with the details of the plot in court, the businessman claimed he had "absolutely no knowledge" of what eventuated and described it as a "stupid expedition".
"As a businessman, lawyer, [with] some decades of experience, the last thing I would have done is launch that foolish expedition," he said.
His manager also denied any knowledge of Goulter and Edmonds' efforts to stop the victim testifying.
Two days later the victim and a friend arrived on the Gold Coast.
On a balcony at the Palazzo Versace, Goulter and Edmonds talked with the complainant about the case. Part of their conversation was recorded by Edmonds.
Goulter got to the point of their trip - he asked the victim what it would take to withdraw his allegations against the businessman.
$750,000, the victim replied.
"I'm curious, how do you get to that figure?" Goulter said. "If we put that in your account you'd retract your statement?"
The proposal was too much and rejected by Goulter who told the young man "a life could be taken" for such a large amount.
The victim later said in court if he would have seriously considered taking the cash to help support his family and himself, but would "live in regret for retracting a statement that was true".
While nothing was agreed, Goulter told the complainant he should travel back to New Zealand with them the next day. But the victim never did and soon informed the detective in charge of the investigation, Anthony Darvill, about the conversation.
Another failed attempt saw Goulter, Edmonds and the businessman's manager meet less than 24 hours after returning to Auckland at Family Bar on Karangahape Rd.
It was again recorded by Edmonds, but unlike the Palazzo Versace recording - given to police as part of the immunity deal - the Family Bar tape would not emerge until nearly two years later.
The phone used to record the conversation had been given to a niece of Edmonds, who claimed to have discovered it halfway through the businessman's first trial in March 2019.
Its contents were so explosive that Judge Russell Collins said he had no choice but to abort the trial.
'We're going to end up in court with everyone knowing'
The Family Bar conversation begins with the manager explaining why Mika was included in the scheme - a business deal with the rich-lister.
The group then quickly turn their attention to the indecent assault victim, who they described as delusional.
"What I want to know is we have this person ready to get on the plane and bring here, is happy to do so and happy to do what we want them to do, but I need to know what the scope is, with what we can do and what we can offer, if we can offer anything," Goulter said.
"Because I don't want to offer him something that we can't fulfil."
Goulter, however, then raises the prospect of other options - intimidating the victim.
"Intimidation is fine, but it involves a number of things so I need to be very clear of what the perimeters are," he said.
The manager, who confirms he is acting on behalf of the businessman, said if the victim had a "comprehensive hold on reality" they would accept a reasonable offer to drop their allegations.
Goulter, seemingly concerned about not getting paid, also discusses the willingness of the rich-lister to continue funding efforts to stop the case.
He mentions the political figure as being prepared to "go in there and blow sh*t up" if he didn't get paid.
"So you know here is how I figure it, [the political figure], you are aware of and [the businessman] is aware of [the politicial figure], thinks that I should be upping the fee on you big time," Goulter said.
"I'm not doing that, because [the political figure] bangs on about integrity and I'm not doing that. I don't see the need to."
The talk of threatening the victim also persists during the recording.
"We can get a resolution but I need to know what I can offer and I need to offer something," Goulter said.
"Or, or I need to really go down two different tracks which initially you said you didn't want to go down. I need to intimidate him, which I'll be able to do with other people or we need to make sure he can't turn up to [the] court case."
Goulter was also opposed to the victim receiving cash.
"But for something to go away, and I'll let you know, [the political figure], completely disagrees with me. [The political figure] thinks f**k it, give him the cash and he can f**k off.
"Because we are the age we are, he is our age, we're smarter than he is obviously … And if [the victim] wants to go to court, that's when I'll play another card.
"He's already been enough of a pain in the f**king ass, as we, as far as we are here."
Goulter and the manager, however, remain confident they can finish the deal but allude to "scare tactics" and using the victim's friend as leverage.
"It's not a nice tactic though, so … I don't think we need to go down that path, what I'm wanting to know is, does [the businessman] want to spend money, a little bit of money, on an opportunity or does he want us to scare the f**king shit out of him and potentially instigate something?" Goulter asks.
Referring to the rich-lister, the manager replies: "The only thing that pisses him off and makes him get cold feet is when he feels like it's a slippery slope and it won't get a resolution."
He said the businessman would be hard to convince spending more money would resolve his problem after he was "burnt by Mika" on the first mission.
"He's happy to bleed if it gets resolved but he's like thinking, it's never getting resolved, I'm just going to keep bleeding and we're going to end up in court with everyone knowing."
Goulter expressed his anxiety about the growing conspiracy, while the manager raises how they should move money from the businessman without it looking "dodgy".
"I need to close this because I'm feeling a little bit exposed in this situation right now and I don't like feeling exposed," Goulter said.
The manager, seemingly jokingly, also mentions a conversation he had with the businessman about sending the victim to Turkey to have him killed.
"... you know, we going to put you in Istanbul, traffic accident, Gypsies there are cheap man, they do [it] for two hundred US, you know like, we jokingly talked about it, [the businessman] laughed and was like, 'this is not funny', so, I don't know," he said.
Goulter replied: "Maybe he wouldn't tell you if he was going to do that?"
The manager said: "I think it would depend on how desperate he is."
Goulter added he knew a friend who could help arrange "a deal or put him in a body bag".
In an astonishing part of the recording, the group also acknowledges what they are doing is criminal.
"I didn't realise it was seven years," the manager said.
Edmonds replies: "Yes, you can look it up … Perverting the course of justice, absolutely, it carries a minimum …"
Goulter chimes in: "Yeah, you're implicated, you're seriously implicated."
He would later tell the court: "We all left ourselves exposed, frankly, and we were all involved."
Conspiring to defeat justice carries a term not exceeding seven years' imprisonment in New Zealand.
Both Goulter and Edmonds had their immunity reviewed after the emergence of the Family Bar tape, however, the Crown said they would not revoke the deal.
Both the manager's lawyer Rachael Reed QC and the businessman's counsel David Jones QC accused the PR pair of lying about their involvement and offering a bigger fish to police to avoid charges themselves.
But Foote told jurors: "It's a rare case, ladies and gentlemen, that you have the criminals on tape acknowledging, on tape, their criminality."
Despite being described by Goulter as having a sibling-like connection with Edmonds, the pair's relationship also appears to have now soured.
Edmonds told the court Goulter "burns everybody".
"He's been known to develop strategies which he changes on the go, depending on what he wants from the situation."
The businessman has indicated he will appeal his convictions.
Both he and his manager are due for sentencing in May.