Phone porn appeal dismissed

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A Queenstown bouncer whose girlfriend caught him watching porn has narrowly lost his appeal over a resulting violence conviction.

Jacob Mitchell Cummings, 24, put his girlfriend in a headlock after she tried to grab his phone while he was having “private time”.

He was convicted of male assaults female but took his case all the way to the Court of Appeal, believing there had been a miscarriage of justice.

He argued it was self-defence – she’d attacked him, tried to take his phone, hit him and headbutt him, he said

But the trial judge, chief district court judge Jan-Marie Doogue, believed his girlfriend’s version of events, because she had been consistent when cross-examined.

Cummings chose not to take the stand during the trial, back in 2017. His lawyers then argued as he’d not been cross-examined on his claims of self-defence or defence of property, he hadn’t had a chance to detail his version of events like she had.

But Court of Appeal Justices Forrie Miller, Robert Dobson and Cameron Mander said it was not up to the prosecution to lend credibility to Cummings’ account through cross-examination.

“The parties agreed the complainant twice grabbed or tried to grab the phone in an angry state and he restrained and released her three times, not attempting to hurt her,” the December 20 judgment reads.

“They disagreed centrally over whether she pushed him on to the bed and tried to hit him.

“On her account, he had no need to restrain her, because she was not attacking him and was either just looking at the phone or no longer holding it.”

The appeal court found in one part of the incident, he had acted in self-defence, holding her arms in a way that prevented her from attacking him.

But in the initial stages, she had not tried to hit him and had already relinquished possession of the phone when he restrained her.

“We observe at once that the contest was not really about possession of the phone.

“The complainant wanted to see what was on its screen, he having denied that he was watching pornography, and he wanted to stop her seeing it, because as he admitted to the police he had in fact been having some “private time”.”

The Justices said the case was “marginal” given that she was initially the aggressor.

But the appeal was dismissed and the male assaults female conviction stands.

Tax conviction

A former Queenstown property developer who owes the taxman $186,000 has been convicted of 42 tax-related charges.

Ross John Allan, 68, one of the original Bendemeer developers, was sentenced to 120 hours’ community work for failing to file GST and income tax returns for five years.

He admitted 42 charges laid under the Tax Administration Act 1994 last October and was sentenced in Queenstown District Court on Monday.

Judge Bernadette Farnan said Allan was working as a business consultant, was registered for GST and received income in the financial years ending March 2012 to 2016. But he failed to file any GST returns for those periods on a two-monthly basis, as was his requirement.

He also failed to file income tax returns by July 7 between 2012 and 2016.

While prosecutor Sarah McKenzie submitted it was “significant, ongoing offending over several years”, Allan’s lawyer Jono Ross submitted it was not a situation where Allan was wilfully failing to file returns, but didn’t have the funds available to pay the money owed.

Farnan felt the number of charges indicated “some contempt” on Allan’s part for the Tax Administration Act but it appeared “more a matter of you putting your head in the sand”.

Drink-driving

Ian David Kerr, 31, of Dunedin (second conviction), 720mcg, December 28, Otematata, nine months’ supervision for intervention for alcohol issues, 150 hours’ community work, eight-month ban with zero-alcohol licence provisions.

Samantha Robyn Morgan, 22, of Wanaka, 491mcg, Wanaka-Luggate Highway, January 25, fined $550, six-month ban.

James David Gemmell, 41, driver, of Wanaka, 981mcg, Aubrey Road, January 9, 120 hours’ community work, disqualified for 28 days with alcohol interlock and zero-alcohol licence provisions, 120 hours’ community work.

Clara Samantha Breeze, 23, French national, living in Glenorchy, 600mcg, Lake Esplanade, February 5, fined $700, six-month ban.

Sebastian Labarca Aronowsky, 29, Chilean national living in Queenstown, 144mg, Stanley Street, January 25, fined $800, six-month ban; driving while suspended, Stanley St, February 10, fined $250, disqualified six months (cumulative).

Gregory May, 34, of Queenstown, 686mcg, December 30, Lake Esplanade, fined $750, six-month ban.

Guido Gorrieri, 22, of Kelvin Heights, 580mcg, Frankton Rd, December 18, fined $650, six-month ban.