A dairy scientist self-dubbed the "father of colostrum" was facing inevitable guilty verdicts for fraud and should have surrendered himself to the mercy of a judge, a court has ruled.
Despite this, Trevor James Lock continues to maintain his innocence and blames his trial lawyer for being behind bars.
Claiming a miscarriage of justice, Lock took his case to the Court of Appeal in late July, attempting to win a retrial after being found guilty by a judge of 20 fraud charges, including forging bank statements and providing false information to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
The masters-educated man was then imprisoned for six years in 2017.
Lock's crimes occurred between May 2012 and October 2015, when he entered contracts to supply dairy and honey products to seven customers on behalf of his companies, Nubiotics and Nu-Brands.
He called himself the "father of colostrum" after Nubiotics marketed a range of products which used the protein-rich breast fluid produced by humans, cows and other mammals.
But Lock had severe financial difficulties and began using customer deposits from contracts to fund personal and other business expenses before failing to deliver on the deals.
He told his lies in a desperate attempt to buy time before being arrested in Morrinsville in December 2015 after an investigation by the SFO.
By the end of the fraud, Lock's customers had lost $650,000.
Despite little of the evidence against him being disputed, the Waikato man told the Court of Appeal his lawyer Jeremy Bioletti had failed to allow him to testify, present the defence he wanted or call certain witnesses.
Lock, who now has long grey hair and wears glasses, also said Bioletti did not fully explain his right to trial by jury, rather than a judge-alone.
Bioletti, however, flatly rejected Lock's claims.
He said Lock told him he had made false representations and deceived his victims.
Lock's "defence" was that he was expecting a large sum of money - notably from China, India and Russia - which would repay the customers.
In their decision released today, the Court of Appeal judges, Justices Forrie Miller, Mary Peters and Mark Woolford, were satisfied Lock admitted making false statements which could only have been made with the intention of deceiving clients.
"He may have hoped all would go well and may have meant to deliver the product or repay the clients in time but that is no answer to the charges," the appeal judgment reads.
"He did not instruct Mr Bioletti to call specific witnesses; rather, he wanted counsel to contact them. Mr Lock decided on advice to opt for a judge-alone trial. He knew he could give evidence but accepted counsel's advice that he should not."
The Court of Appeal judges said they were "not dealing with a fundamental failure of counsel" and the only error established was Bioletti not informing Lock he might benefit at sentencing if he pleaded guilty.
"Mr Lock had admitted to Mr Bioletti that he made the false representations and forged the bank statements. He repeated some of those admissions before us. In those circumstances it was impossible for counsel to do more than put the Crown to proof of the mental element and it is impossible for us to say that any question of a miscarriage of justice arises," the Court of Appeal decision reads.
"We will not speculate on what the other witnesses might have said, beyond noting that some were character witnesses whose evidence could hardly have helped Mr Lock in circumstances where the Crown case so clearly demonstrated that he had made false representations to his clients."
The Court of Appeal said it agreed with the trial judge, Russell Collins, that the prosecution's case was "unanswerable and the verdicts inevitable".
"Mr Lock would have been wise to plead guilty and throw himself on the mercy of the trial court," the judgment reads. "We make this point because he hinted at it in his oral evidence before us, stating that he has since been told that the Serious Fraud Office were surprised that he made no approach.
"Mr Lock cannot now blame counsel for his failure to take the only course that was realistically open to him."
While the Court of Appeal dismissed Lock's challenge against convictions it did allow an appeal, in part, of his sentence.
His cumulative sentence on the charges of providing false information to the SFO will now be served concurrently with three other charges resulting in a sentence of five and a half years' imprisonment.
Herald investigations also earlier revealed a similar Lock company, Functional Nutraceuticals, collapsed in 2011.
Liquidator reports said the company was established in 2001 to export colostrum, but had later supplied mānuka honey and oil to markets in China and Russia.