Buckely Systems' former chief financial officer has successfully quashed his dishonesty convictions.

Stephen Howe, in his mid-50s, was found guilty last year of four charges of dishonestly using a document, three charges of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose, and one charge of causing loss by deception.

The charges were tied to invoices and payments of $198,000 that Howe's company received from Buckley Systems in 2012.

Buckley Systems, a manufacturing and engineering firm based in the Auckland suburb of Mt Wellington, employed Howe from 2010 to 2013 as its CFO.


A year into his tenure, Howe negotiated for his pay to be aligned with Buckley Systems' then-chief executive Mike Lightfoot.

Lightfoot, as part of his employment contract with Buckley Systems, received an annual racing allowance.

Lightfoot set up Team BSL, advertised the company on his own racing car and invoiced the firm for his costs.

In April 2013, Buckley Systems' board raised the issue of possible overpayments to Howe. Howe's services were terminated that same month.

The former CFO's case in defending the subsequent prosecution was that he had a claim of right to the payments, which matched the amounts for Lightfoot's racing sponsorship.

It was accepted during his four-day trial in the Auckland District Court that the company's founder Bill Buckley had said that whatever Lightfoot got, Howe got.

However, Judge Philippa Sinclair found that Howe had acted dishonestly.

She said that Howe could not have plausibly considered that racing sponsorship would be part of his remuneration package.

He would have known that sponsorship and remuneration were different concepts.
Howe was sentenced to 12 months' home detention and ordered to pay nearly $200,000 in reparations.

Howe has since successfully appealed his convictions in the High Court.

Justice Anne Hinton, in her decision last month, said there was a "lack of clarity around the contractual and payment arrangements".

"I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Crown has shown Mr Howe acted dishonestly and without claim of right ... I consider Mr Howe had no entitlement to the racing sponsorship payments, but I am not satisfied to the requisite standard that he believed his actions were unlawful," she said.

"While I agree with the judge that many aspects of the way in which Mr Howe conducted himself were very concerning, and in fact suspicious, I have reached the view that the Crown has not discharged the high standard of proof, with the result that a miscarriage of justice has occurred. Consequently, the eight convictions entered in the District Court are all quashed," Justice Hinton said.