Elderly perjuror avoids jail term

A man who lied in the High Court to cause problems for his ex-wife has narrowly avoided being jailed.

Graeme John Kendall was convicted of two counts of perjury in the High Court at Auckland after lying in affidavits he swore after the break-up of his marriage with Patricia Murfitt.

He was sentenced yesterday to seven months home detention and ordered to pay Murfitt $25,000.

Kendall, an elderly businessman who uses a walker, married Murfitt, a deputy principal at an Auckland girls' school, in 2006 after a year-long relationship.

During their marriage he gave her one of his unused shell companies so she could use it to buy a rental property in Takapuna. Murfitt became the sole director and shareholder of the company, Home Pride Ltd.

Their marriage broke up just before Christmas 2006 and Murfitt moved out of their home.

Kendall, who had shares in 19 private companies, trespassed her from all his properties, including one where she had some of her property stored.

In January 2007, Kendall used his company, Feature Furniture, to send a statutory demand to Murfitt's Home Pride, saying it owed him $64,000 for unpaid rent on a unit it had allegedly been leasing from his company since April 2003 - before the pair had even met.

Murfitt said she went into "a state of serious shock which required medication" once she received the demand.

A statutory demand is the first step in a liquidation and the recipient must go to court to have it removed.

It cost Murfitt more than $33,000 in legal fees to have the demand set aside; a figure Justice Kit Toogood said she could not afford but had no choice but to pay.

Murfitt's lawyers took the matter to court and Kendall swore two affidavits that said the leases between the two companies existed.

Crown prosecutor Nick Flannagan said it was "hard to imagine a much more calculated and orchestrated set of offending" and that a jail term was the only reasonable response.

But after giving Kendall credit for the reparation he would pay his victim and 40 years of previous good character as a member of the fire service, Justice Toogood settled on a sentence of home detention.

"It is not a soft option," he said.

"It was deliberate campaign of deception that didn't only hit your former wife but struck at the heart of the legal system."

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