Prominent businessman makes second Court of Appeal bid to be freed from prison cell

A prominent and wealthy businessman has made a second bid to be unshackled from prison pending an appeal of his indecent assault and corruption convictions.

The former rich-lister, who continues to enjoy interim name suppression, today asked the Court of Appeal to grant him bail as he attempts to overturn five guilty verdicts and a two year and four month period of incarceration.

Court of Appeal president Justice Stephen Kós and Justices Forrie Miller and Mark Cooper heard the more than hour-long arguments from the businessman’s lawyer, David Jones QC, and a Crown lawyer in Wellington.

The details of what was debated, however, cannot be published by the Herald because of statutory suppression orders under the Bail Act 2000.

The judges reserved their decision on whether to overturn the High Court’s earlier ruling denying the wealthy Kiwi bail.

It has now been 12 nights since the businessman was sentenced to prison by Justice Geoffrey Venning for indecently assaulting three men and twice attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The businessman has always strenuously denied the allegations against him from the moment 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 claimed he was part of an “amazing blackmailing circuit”.

The businessman was also convicted – alongside his manager and entertainer Mika X – of twice trying to pervert the course of justice by offering a bribe for the 2016 victim, the first to go to police, to drop their claims.

The second attempt in May 2017 included hiring PR consultant Jevan Goulter to help make the case disappear and later become known as the “Gold Coast plot”.

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 businessman’s manager – talking about the case at a bar.

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.

The businessman’s manager, who also continues to have interim name suppression, was in court to watch his boss’ sentencing last month after sitting alongside him in the dock during the trial.

He was jointly charged and found guilty of attempting to dissuade the complainant during the Gold Coast scheme. Justice Venning sentenced him to 12 months’ home detention.

The manager has also filed an appeal against his conviction, the Court of Appeal confirmed to the Herald.

Mika, meanwhile, pleaded guilty before the start of the businessman’s trial to two charges of attempting to dissuade and bribe the 2016 victim. He was sentenced to 11 months’ home detention.

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