A former Ponsonby real estate agent has been sentenced to community detention after scamming a man out of $12,000 with a bogus Trade Me sale.

Samuel James Clough was sentenced in the Auckland District Court today by Judge Philippa Cunningham to 11 months' community detention and a year's supervision.

She also ordered him to pay $12,000 and $1334 in reparation, and suspended him from driving for 12 months.

On July 24 last year Clough pleaded guilty to obtaining by deception, driving while disqualified and breaching his bail.


In May he had also pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine, possession of a meth pipe and refusing to give a blood specimen.

Clough's deception charge came from conning a man into buying a car from him on Trade Me. The buyer never received the vehicle and the court heard today that the car has since been sold to another buyer.

The former residential salesperson at LJ Hooker Ponsonby was also caught driving while disqualified on May 9, 2017, and breached his bail by failing to appear for a court appearance later that month.

When the real estate agency learned of Clough's offending via media reports, his employment was terminated.

Court documents, released to the Herald by Judge Carolyn Henwood, show Clough's drug offending occurred on the night of October 24, 2016, when he was driving on Remuera Rd.

At 7.50pm Clough threw a cigarette out of his window as he approached a red light at the junction of Remuera and Orakei Rds.

After he was stopped, police could smell cannabis coming from the car. Police searched the vehicle and found a glass pipe, a cut straw and 0.5g of meth.

Clough was asked to undergo a compulsory impairment test at the scene, and court documents show he "failed to complete the test". Police then asked him to give a blood sample.


"Despite several warnings regarding the consequences, [Clough] refused consent for the blood specimen to be taken," the police summary of facts read.

Clough was arrested and questioned by police before he was charged.

In explanation for the pipe, Clough said he used it for aromatherapy, while the drugs were a synthetic substance called "rubble".

"In explanation for refusing the blood specimen [Clough] said it's everything he goes against and it is against his spiritual religion," the summary reads.

Clough said today that he had been attending Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS) which has been "inspiring" in what can be a "very sad world".

He said the treatment had helped him lift a burden from his shoulders.

"He's a bit of a pin-up boy for CADS, isn't he?" Judge Cunningham said.

"I don't think I've ever heard anyone speak so well of [CADS] as you have today."

Clough also told the court he now has a full-time job as a sous chef.

Judge Cunningham, however, warned him: "You've got to watch that, because a lot of chefs drink a lot."

But Clough said he doesn't drink anymore because he has two kittens at home to care for.

"You've had a bad couple of years," the judge told him.

"An interesting couple of years," Clough replied.

Earlier motor vehicle ruse

The Herald can also reveal that Clough was involved in a voided car sale which saw a woman paid back nearly $20,000 after another misleading Trade Me listing.

An April 2016 Motor Vehicles Disputes Tribunal reads that on October 23, 2015, the woman agreed to buy a 1995 Nissan Skyline for $19,500 from Clough, who claimed the seller of the vehicle was Good as Gold Motors Limited.

However, the woman said she was misled by the advertisement about the cost of obtaining compliance approval. Instead of costing $1000 to $2000 to get the vehicle complied she said she'd been told that it may cost her a sum in excess of the cost price of the vehicle.

She said, had she known the true cost of obtaining compliance she wouldn't have bought the vehicle.

Good as Gold Motors denied selling the car to the woman and said the company never owned it, with the trader's director saying his former business partner, Clough, sold the vehicle to the woman as a private sale without the company's knowledge or involvement.

The advertisement, which described the Nissan with a "start price" of $26,000, read: "I have just picked the car up from compliance on Friday and there are no major concerns."

However, several requirements for the car were also listed to make it road worthy.

The woman made contact with Clough via email and agreed, without inspecting, to buy the car for $19,500.

She arranged a mortgage over her property to finance the car before she deposited $19,500 in four tranches into a bank account nominated by Clough.

Clough then delivered the car to her in Waipu on October 24, 2015.

However, the vehicle was unregistered, unwarranted and should not have been driven on the road.

On November 6, 2015, the woman took the vehicle to Vehicle Inspections and Testing Services (VINZ) for a compliance inspection.

VINZ found several defects with the vehicle.

The tribunal found Clough's "guess" as to the cost of bringing the vehicle to compliance standard of $1000 to $2000 was greatly understated, misleading, and declared the purchase of the car void.

The full $19,500 was also ordered to be paid back to the woman.