Prominent businessman convicted of indecent assaults granted bail pending appeal

A prominent and wealthy businessman will be released from custody as he awaits an appeal of his indecent assault and corruption convictions.

The Court of Appeal today granted the man, who has interim name suppression, bail pending a future challenge to his five convictions and more than two-year prison term.

He was sentenced in May.

The businessman had previously and unsuccessfully asked the High Court and Court of Appeal for bail pending his appeal. His lawyer, David Jones QC, made a third bid last Friday.

The reasons given by Justice Murray Gilbert today, however, cannot be published by the Herald because of statutory suppression orders under the Bail Act 2000.

The businessman’s appeal was due to be heard next week in Wellington but has been adjourned. A new date is yet to be scheduled, while the former rich-lister is eligible for parole in March.

The businessman was sentenced to two years and four months in prison by Justice Geoffrey Venning in late May for indecently assaulting three men and twice attempting to pervert the course of justice.

But the influential figure continues to deny the allegations against him – as he has since he was first accused of assaulting a young man at his Auckland home in 2016.

He was later charged with assaulting two others in the early 2000s and 2008 but told police he was the victim of an “amazing blackmailing circuit”.

One of the businessman’s victims told him at the sentencing hearing: “I do not forgive you, I only hope one day time will allow me to forget you.”

Another said the man’s lack of remorse “infuriates” him.

The wealthy Kiwi was also found guilty of twice trying to pervert the course of justice by offering a bribe for the 2016 victim to drop their claims.

Entertainer Mika X also pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to dissuade and bribe the same indecent assault victim, including during a second attempt which has become known as the “Gold Coast plot”. He was sentenced to 11 months’ home detention.

The businessman’s manager, who has name suppression, was also accused and found guilty after the February and March trial over the Gold Coast efforts in May 2017, which included hiring PR consultant Jevan Goulter to assist the plot. The manager was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and is also appealing his conviction.

The former rich-lister’s first trial was aborted in 2018 due to the emergence of a recording of three of the case’s conspirators – Goulter, his associate Allison Edmonds and the manager – talking about the conspiracy at an Auckland bar shortly after the Gold Coast attempt.

Goulter and Edmonds were both granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for their evidence for the Crown, which was reviewed and remained after the recording came to light.

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