Ludlow appeals conviction and sentence

WILLIAM MACE
Last updated 08:04 13/02/2013

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A convicted finance company director who received one of the heaviest prison sentences resulting from the sector's collapse has challenged his conviction and sentencing in the Court of Appeal.

Trevor Allan Ludlow was founder, shareholder and director of National Finance until it went into receivership in 2006 owing $24 million to more than 2000 investors of which only $10m has been recovered.

He was convicted on two separate sets of Crimes Act and Financial Reporting Act charges - seven filed by the Serious Fraud Office on which he was found guilty of six and pleaded guilty to one, and later eight counts filed by the Financial Markets Authority to which he pleaded guilty.

Ludlow is serving a total sentence of six years and four months in prison on all counts, and he appeared via video link from prison to state his case in the Court of Appeal in Auckland yesterday.

As with his earlier District Court and High Court cases, Ludlow represented himself because he said he was too broke to afford legal representation and did not know about legal aid options for appeals until it was too late.

Ludlow appeared via the link from Spring Hill Correctional Facility near Huntly. He had a new look - a lengthy ponytail which he said was necessary because he did not want to use the prison's barber because he "didn't know where the scissors had been".

After the hearing Ludlow mentioned to a guard that he had seen his girlfriend sitting in the back of the courtroom via the video link.

Before beginning his submissions, Ludlow told Justices White, France and Asher that his year-and-four-month incarceration so far had been "made survivable" by his girlfriend's support and visits.

Ludlow's ex-wife, former National Finance director Carol Braithwaite was sentenced in the High Court at Auckland last September to 10 months' home detention and 300 hours of community service.

Yesterday Ludlow told the judges he was "extraordinarily nervous" about representing himself, had been "quite despondent" during his five-year legal struggle, and was sure he had been disadvantaged by a lack of legal training and having to research his appeal from prison.

Ludlow's appeal amounted to continued blaming of National Finance's former accountant John Gray, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in November 2010, which was then reduced to nine months.

Ludlow said he had delegated to Gray much of his company's accounting duties, including the disclosure and treatment of related-party loans to companies he was a beneficiary of.

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Crown prosecutor Nick Williams said Ludlow and Braithwaite were beneficiaries of the majority of the related-party loans. It was unlikely Gray had a strong motivation to do the deals himself.

The judges continually drew Ludlow's attention to his not having testified on his own behalf at his trials and was therefore not able to present some of the evidence that he sought to.

Ludlow has also filed appeals against sentences imposed on both convictions.

However, a court error meant those appeals could not proceed yesterday and will be rescheduled so they can be heard together.

The judges reserved their decision on Ludlow's appeal against the convictions.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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