An acclaimed Auckland architect who set fire to his estranged wife's clothes in the driveway of their family home - including her wedding dress - has had his conviction overturned so his career is not negatively impacted by his offending.
Nicholas Elliot Moyes, a principal architect for well-known firm Jasmax, was convicted of arson in the Auckland District Court in December.
The 47-year-old applied for a discharge without conviction on the basis that a criminal record would severely restrict his career.
Judge David Burns rejected the application, saying "the consequences are not out of all proportion to the gravity of the offending".
Soon after sentencing, Moyes launched an appeal against his conviction - stating Judge Burns' decision was "wrong".
On March 19 the appeal was heard in the High Court at Auckland by Justice Mark Woolford, who released his decision to the Herald today.
Moyes' lawyer Paul Dacre QC explained that Moyes' key role for Jasmax was leading 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.
That role required him to have police and airport security clearances to access international airports - which he had to visit regularly.
Dacre said a conviction could mean Moyes' security clearances both in New Zealand and abroad was revoked.
That in turn could lead to Jasmax losing "key" clients due to Moye's existing business relationships and the fact that he held their "most significant aviation knowledge and experience".
They said Moyes "cannot be easily substituted" by other employees.
Dacre said since he was convicted Jasmax had not sent Moyes on any work trips and his "position at the firm is under review".
A conviction was in breach of the firm's code of conduct, and formal disciplinary procedures had been initiated against Moyes when he declared his sentence.
Dacre said the personal impact was not the only reason Moyes should have been granted a discharge without conviction.
He said a conviction may also impact on Jazmax's ability to tender for new work.
Justice Woolford said he was of the view that the effect of a conviction on Moyes ability to travel overseas was "overstated".
"Standing back, however, and looking at the matter overall, it seems to me, with respect, that the Judge fell into error when he focused on the nature of the particular offence with which Mr Moyes had been charged - rather than what he actually did," he said in his decision.
"Although I am of the view that the effects of a conviction on Mr Moyes ability to travel overseas are overstated, I do accept that the consequences of a conviction are still relatively serious and wide-ranging.
"A conviction may result in Mr Moyes being unable to accompany clients overseas when visiting airports on business.
"A conviction may also affect the firm's ability to tender for and win aviation infrastructure work abroad."
He said a conviction may make it "unduly onerous" for Moyes to get the appropriate clearance to work overseas.
"The gravity of Mr Moyes offending does not warrant that.
"I am therefore of the view that the Judge was wrong not to grant Mr Moyes a discharge without conviction… the appeal is allowed.
"Mr Moyes conviction is quashed and he is discharged without conviction."
Justice Woolford noted that Moyes had paid his now ex-wife $15,000 in reparation and obtained counselling for their children.
Moyes did not want to comment on the decision.
His ex-wife said she was appalled by the appeal - which she heard about from the Herald rather than police or a court victim advisor.
"I am in complete shock, disbelief," she said.
"I feel like I have not been believed … that there is no accountability for offenders.
"I guess I am just another case of woman being revictimised by the very courts that are supposed to protect them."
She said she was "very, very disappointed" by Justice Woolford's decision.
"How am I now to teach my children right from wrong … when their father, their supposed role model can get away with such an abhorrent criminal act against a woman, their very own mother.
"What message does that send other men who attempt something like this - it's okay to hurt those people who they should hold dear?
"Since when does crime get ignored over consequences for said crime? Who cares if he loses his job? That's his problem, not the judiciary's."
Moyes was charged after he set fire to a significant amount of his estranged wife's property in the driveway of their Titirangi home on Boxing Day in 2016.
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.