A Wellington man who faked his disappearance on a diving trip today pleaded guilty to wasting police time when he appeared in Wellington District Court.

Colin Smithies, 49, prompted a search in January when he was thought to have gone missing on a diving trip at Titahi Bay, but turned up days later at Clive police station in Hawkes Bay, claiming he'd been abducted and sexually assaulted.

He recanted the next day, admitted he'd actually tried to kill himself, intending to make it look like an accident so his partner could receive an insurance payout.

Smithies' lawyer argued his client suffers clinical depression and wasn't of a sound mind when he disappeared.

However, the Judge said he wasn't satisfied Smithies was seriously ill and sentenced him to 300 hours community service and ordered him to pay $16,292 in reparation - less than half the estimated cost of the search for him.

- NZPA, Newstalk ZB