A top Auckland architect set fire to his estranged wife's clothes - including her wedding dress - because he suspected she was having an affair.

Nicholas Elliot Moyes, 47, was convicted of intentional damage after the arson, but is now appealing that decision - saying that it will severely restrict his career.

Moyes, a principal architect for well-known firm Jasmax, was sentenced on December 1 in the Auckland District Court on one count of intentional damage.

The Herald can reveal that on Boxing Day last year Moyes set fire to a significant amount of his estranged wife's property in the driveway of their Titirangi home.

The incident came after the couple, married for 10 years, separated in early December.


They agreed that Moyes would stay in Auckland and his wife would take the children to stay in Wellington.

However she left earlier than expected and court documents reveal what happened next.

"He felt disquiet about the circumstances of the separation and was uncomfortable about the suddenness of his wife's departure to Wellington with their children," the police summary of facts stated.

"He decided to check their personal papers."

Moyes found a shoebox full of documents including cards and notes to his wife from a man overseas, where the wife had travelled regularly for work in 2016.

After reading the notes, Moyes formed the view that his wife was having an affair with the other man.

He was also convinced that she was "considering joining him permanently overseas and taking their children with her".

Moyes tried repeatedly to contact her and she finally responded to him at 1am on December 26.

Soon after they spoke, he took "all of her clothing" including "socks, nightwear, swimsuits, shorts, underwear, jackets, designer dresses and her wedding dress" from a wardrobe and drawers.

"(Moyes) has set fire to these clothes on the driveway, causing them to be destroyed," the summary said.

The next morning Moyes was "ashamed" of what he had done.

The court heard that his explanation for the offending was not meant to justify his behaviour, which he had "extreme remorse and regret" over.

Since the incident Moyes and his wife have formally separated.

The court heard she was "significantly distressed" by the incident.

Nicholas Moyes was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on December 1.
Nicholas Moyes was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on December 1.

Moyes applied for a discharge without conviction and his lawyer Paul Dacre, QC, said he accepted the offending and its impact, but the consequences of a conviction were "out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending.

"It is submitted that the offending is at the lowest level," Dacre said.

He said that if convicted Moyes career would be significantly impacted.

"One of his key roles for the job for the past four years has been to lead the design and development of key pieces of infrastructure for Auckland Airport including emigration and departures retail expansion and enabling works for terminal development plans," he said.

"As part of the contract he deals with large international companies and various international consultants."

"He requires police and airport security clearances to access other international airports which he must visit as part of his role.

"He is concerned that if convicted, he may not be able to obtain security clearance for (airports) because of the nature of the charge."

Dacre said it was also likely Moyes would "have difficulty" obtaining work visas at short notice for overseas business trips.

"If this was the case it would mean that he would be unable to carry out his contractual duties and obligations … this would also seriously affect his value to Jasmax," he said.

Jasmax chairwoman Karen Price said she had known Moyes for 10 years and supported him.

She provided an affidavit to the court reiterating how his career and the company's projects would suffer if he was convicted.

"This could have an effect on his role within the company," she said.

In his own affidavit, Moyes explained that he was "simply in the process of coming to terms with the ending" of his marriage - a union he believed had been happy - when he offended.

"I completely realise that what I did was so destructive, reactive and wrong," he said.

Judge Burns rejected Moyes' application for a discharge without conviction, saying the offending was serious and consequences were inevitable, regardless of the explanation.

"Had the charge been less serious, I could have seen a good argument that the consequences would have been out of proportion," he said.

"But the charge he faces is arson ... I have to reject the application.

"In my view, the consequences are not out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending.

"This has had a significant effect on the victim … this is a situation where there's going to be consequences."

He confirmed that Moyes had already paid $15,000 in reparation to his ex-wife and did not order any further financial penalty.

But he did convict him.

Moyes has since appealed the decision.

His ex-wife attended his sentencing but did not want to comment.