Six nights behind bars, prominent businessman asks Court of Appeal for bail after initial bid dismissed

After spending six nights in prison a prominent and wealthy New Zealand businessman is again making another bid for bail pending an appeal of his convictions and sentence.

The former rich-lister was sentenced last Thursday to a total term of two years and four months by Justice Geoffrey Venning for indecently assaulting three men and twice attempting to pervert the course of justice.

At the end of the hearing in the High Court at Auckland – as the somewhat stunned and still suppressed businessman was being led into the holding cells – his lawyer made a bid for bail pending an appeal.

The effort by David Jones QC was dismissed by Justice Venning.

But the businessman, who has strenuously denied the allegations against him from the moment he was first charged in February 2017, has now asked the Court of Appeal to consider releasing him.

A hearing for an appeal of Justice Venning’s bail decision is due to be heard next Tuesday, the Herald understands.

The wealthy Kiwi was found guilty by a jury in March of assaulting a trio of men in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.

The businessman also attempted to bribe the 2016 victim to drop their claims by engaging others to do his dirty work.

Justice Venning told him last week: “Your inability to accept your offending is made plain in your discussion with a probation officer, you consider yourself to be a victim of the tall poppy syndrome.

“Your sense of self-entitlement is repeated in the affidavit you provided for sentencing, it displays a lack of empathy for your victims and confirms your lack of insight into your offending.”

Prior to being sentenced, the businessman wrote an email to more than 100 people and organisations asking for help and a letter to provide to the judge.

“I would greatly appreciate such support … I am innocent of all charges as I have stated in my earlier email,” he wrote.

“I would doubt I would survive any period in prison. In these circumstances innocent people can and do rot in jail only to be cleared some time later. Such is the law.”

Crown prosecutor Simon Foote QC said during the sentencing the rich Kiwi was a “man of privilege, business success and significant philanthropy”.

Jones said his client has made an “unparalleled contribution” to New Zealand and the assaults “cannot take away the benefit he has provided, to literally, the country”.

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