Two men are on trial defending allegations that they fleeced two elderly women of more than $600,000.

Murray Bryon Provan and Robert Ian South whose jury trial began in the Tauranga District Court yesterday are defending two charges laid by the Financial Markets Authority.

Provan has pleaded not guilty to two charges of obtaining by deception and South pleaded not guilty to two charges of theft from a person in a special relationship.

Crown prosecutor Sam Davison told the court the two defendants obtained a total of $645,000 from two elderly complainants.


The offences were allegedly committed between May 2012 and February 2015 in Tauranga, Auckland and elsewhere in New Zealand.

The jury heard the two women were lead to believe they were investing their funds in shares in a software company called Our World New Zealand Limited, which Provan and South were involved in.

However, Davison said the accused spent the money themselves.

The jury heard Provan had met Gaye Rowling through a church group when he told her about a software company, which she could buy shares in and get huge returns.

Murray Bryon Provan.
Murray Bryon Provan.

Davison said Provan asked Rowling if she wanted to be "one of the lucky few" to invest in the company and was assured there was no way she would lose her money.

Rowling invested $390,000 in the company but later obtained a $40,000 refund.

Davison said the Crown believed Provan made a number of false representations to entice her to invest in the company.

Emails were sent by Rowling to South requesting more information about her investment in shares, which the Crown said did not exist.


Davison said a second complainant, Barbara Gilmore, also met Provan at a church group and later invested $255,000.

The court heard Gilmore was told to deposit the funds directly into a bank account.

Gilmore also sent emails to the company asking about her shares but did not receive any documentation about her shares or the investment she had made.

During their opening addresses, Provan's lawyer Tony Rickard-Simms urged the jury to suspend their judgement until they had heard all the evidence.

Rickard-Simms said the defence's position was there was no evidence that Provan believed the complainants were not going to get their money back.

There was no intention by him to rip off anyone, he said.

Rickard-Simms said Provan accepted those conversations took place and money was transferred but the defence said he believed the investments would be paid back.

South's lawyer Bill Nabney told the jury members they did not have to worry about the sums the Crown said were paid over by the two complainants as that was accepted.

Robert Ian South.
Robert Ian South.

Nabney said the issues for the jury should focus on what the money was used for and what South intended.

The issue of intent by South was an important factual consideration for the jury in this trial, he said.

The trial continues today. - Additional reporting by Zoe Hunter.