Fraudster gets sentence cancelled, then re-started

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Convicted fraudster and Queenstown helicopter pilot David Kershaw has had his sentence cancelled so he can take a two-week overseas trip for work.

Kershaw, who scammed his former employer for $31,000 to fund family holidays, life insurance and his personal bank account, will serve the remainder of his sentence when he returns from Indonesia.

Kershaw’s lawyer Pip Hall applied for a variation to the sentence of six months’ community detention in Queenstown District Court today. He argued under the Sentencing Act 2002 that there was a change in circumstances and therefore the sentence should be suspended for two weeks.

Two months into his sentence and having completed the additional 150 hours’ community work, urgent work in Indonesia needed to be undertaken by Kershaw, Hall told the court.

Kershaw is a consultant to family business Kershaw Aviation Group. The company has a joint venture with an overseas firm that has contracts in Indonesia for mining operations using helicopters.

The joint venture required Kershaw to travel to Indonesia to carry out safety audits and writing policy procedures for a new $US3 million chopper.

The work was unforeseen till after sentencing occurred in July. Kershaw’s application should not be seen as an avoidance of his sentence, Hall says.

Judge Kevin Phillips accepted there was a change in circumstances to Kershaw’s position, but the changes did not fall within the statutory interpretation so he was unable to suspend the sentence.

Instead, he cancelled the existing sentence of community detention, effective September 1 – when Kershaw leaves the country.

A new sentence of four months’ community detention will be imposed from Kershaw’s return, on September 14. A curfew from 9pm-7am will continue with the new sentence.

Kershaw, 58, defrauded Queenstown firm Heliworks Helicopters Ltd when he held the position of general manager between 2005 and 2010.