A victim of a Queenstown-based swindler is disappointed at his “small” sentence - but glad his reputation is trashed.
Tauranga man Lindsay Richards says property deals in the US with Kerry Christian have cost him at least $NZ148,000.
Christian, 56, was convicted on four dishonesty charges on Wednesday, at Invercargill District Court.
He was sentenced to 150 hours’ community work and ordered to pay $US800 (NZ$1184) reparation to one complainant and NZ$1500 to another.
Richards had reported Christian to the cops in 2013 after property deals went awry.
“I’m disappointed at such a small sentence after three years of process and the large sums of money involved.
“However the big thing is we have criminal convictions against him. He hasn’t just got away scot-
free, he’s been held accountable.”
Crown solicitor John Young says the deals involved had the “odour of a pyramid scheme”.
“There’s an element of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he says.
“When difficulties arise and people want their money back, it becomes complicated.”
Christian had initially faced 19 charges, with the money involved totalling $72,400.
But during a judge-alone trial in August and September seven were dismissed.
On the last day of the trial, it emerged Christian had amended emails to support his defence.
With his credibility in court tarnished, a deal was struck so he pleaded guilty to four charges covering a fraction of the initial money claimed.
The Crown offered no evidence of the remaining eight.
Christian’s lawyer Roger Eagles applied for a discharge without conviction, on the grounds it would be “highly suspect, if not impossible” for him to continue working as a property developer with convictions for dishonesty.
But Judge Bernadette Farnan dismissed that application.
She says while some of the difficulties arose from bad paperwork and organisation, he’d “crossed the line to obtain money” and must have known it was criminal.
Farnan accepted the reparation was less than sought but says the difference can be obtained through civil proceedings.