A blackmailer who threatened to frame a disgruntled former employee for sexual assault has lost his latest courtroom battle.
Harjit Dheil appealed against his conviction and sentence but the appeal has been dismissed at the Court of Appeal.
Harjit Dheil was found guilty of blackmailing migrant worker Amrit Singh by a jury trial. He was then sentenced by Judge Nevin Dawson in the Auckland District Court to 10 months' home detention.
His co-defendant Gurchetan Singh was acquitted.
Amrit Singh worked for Dheils Ltd at Glenfield Sports Bar.
In early 2014, his wife raised concerns about the number of hours he was working without pay, the Court of Appeal heard.
"However, those concerns were not pursued because at that time his visa was restricted to Dheils Ltd and he feared losing his job."
But in June 2014, Dheils Ltd sold the bar to Gaming and Sports Ltd.
Gurchetan Singh became one of its directors.
Feeling he was no longer at risk of losing his job, Amrit Singh made a formal complaint about his former employer to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
An unsuccessful mediation followed in August 2014.
Two months later, a drunk woman flirted with Amrit Singh before assaulting him at the bar, the Court of Appeal decision says. She was arrested and some of what had transpired was captured on CCTV.
The Crown case was that Gurchetan Singh, at the behest of Harjit Dheil, then approached Amrit Singh with a view to forcing him, by blackmail, into withdrawing the ERA complaint.
The threat used was that the woman seen on the CCTV footage would be paid $10,000 to make a complaint of sexual assault against Amrit Singh.
Gurchetan Singh communicated with Harjit Dheil by telephone during the course of that discussion and a letter, drafted by Harjit Dheil withdrawing the ERA complaint,
was emailed to Gurchetan Singh who then provided it to Amrit Singh to sign.
However, Harjit Dheil's case was that he did not know Gurchetan Singh and had simply
drafted and forwarded the withdrawal letter in a bid to help Armit Singh.
The appeal against sentence was advanced on the grounds that the sentence was
both "inappropriate and manifestly excessive" and the judge erred in taking prison as
the appropriate starting point.
Dheil's lawyer Jonathan Eaton QC also argued there had been "erroneous factual assumptions" during the sentencing, such as the number of calls between Gurchetan Singh and Harjit Dheil during the meeting.
However, the Court of Appeal said they were satisfied the factual errors were not material to the sentencing.
It did not change the fact there was a series of telephone communications between the two and, as the Crown argued, Harjit Dheil's innocent explanation of those calls was rejected.
The Court of Appeal also found the starting point was "well within range".
Justice Lynton Stevens, Justice Geoffrey Venning and Justice Rachel Dunningham dismissed both the appeal against conviction and sentence.