Queenstown fraudster admits breaching parole conditions

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Convicted Queenstown fraudster Kerry Harford has been convicted and discharged for breaching his parole conditions. 

In Queenstown District Court today, Harford, 52, admitted failing to notify probation officers of a change in his employment details after his release from prison. 

The court heard that while on parole, Harford took up three months’ work as an unregistered surveyor in Christchurch to help out with earthquake damage in June last year. 

Court summary of facts state that on June 21, 2011, he sent a text message advising his probation officer, “I am working in CHCH for three months”. 

Harford needed approval from Community Probation Services if he was to change employment while on parole.
But Harford’s lawyer Greg King told the court that his client actually sent a detailed email to his probation officer explaining the change in circumstance, but it was sent to an incorrect address. 

Harford never got notification the email was not received. 

“Mr Harford accepts that his failure was to follow up on that email and make absolutely sure the probation officer knew what he was doing,” King says. 

“It’s a breakdown in communication.” 

King, who recently successfully defended Ewan MacDonald in the Scott Guy murder trial, argued the breach was a technical one and Harford has had an otherwise “model integration” following his release in April 2010. 

Harford was convicted and imprisoned in 2008 for his role in defrauding the Otago District Health Board of $17 million with friend Michael Andrew Swann. 

He served 13 months of a four-year, three-month sentence. 

Crown lawyer John Young says the Department of Corrections was happy for Harford to receive no further penalty on top of this conviction. 

Judge Paul Kellar accepted King’s argument that it was a technical breach of conditions and he agreed with the Crown that Harford should receive no further penalty.