Fraudster spared from community service

A man who helped defraud the North Shore City Council of hundreds of thousands of dollars has had part of his sentence quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Suresh Din was originally charged in 2010 with 11 counts of using a document with intent to defraud and seven counts of dishonestly using a document after he rendered false invoices to the council between 2000 and 2009, netting him and his co-offender Hemant Kumar Maharaj more than $829,000.

Council employee Maharaj was the instigator of the conspiracy and organised his friend Din  to submit invoices to him for road and berm maintenance work that was never completed.

After the invoices were submitted, Maharaj would sign off the work and forward the invoice for payment. 

The money was paid by the council to Din, and the pair shared the profits.

In the Auckland District Court last year Din was sentenced to ten months home detention and 350 hours community work however the Court of Appeal quashed 11 of his convictions this year. 

Din's lawyer, Paul Wicks QC, argued that following the appeal Din's sentence was now "manifestly excessive" and that the judge had made an error in not identifying separate sentences for each offence.

Din was close to finishing his home detention sentence and Wicks said the outcome of the conviction appeal should be recognised by quashing the community work sentence. 

The court agreed with Wicks and in its decision released today it said during sentencing the judge didn't quantify the pecuniary advantage Din obtained from the false invoices and that the inference was that the benefit to Din was much less than the loss to the Council from the false invoices.

"We are satisfied that the charges relating to the tax returns on their own would not have attracted the sentence imposed because the cases used as comparators would have been those involving less money." 

The court allowed the appeal and quashed the remaining community work sentence.