Finance director gets jury trial
Former National Finance director Carol Braithwaite is to stand trial before a jury, the first time a finance company prosecution has not been heard by a judge alone.
Justice Pamela Andrews granted the application today after hearing legal arguments from the Crown and Braithwaite's lawyer.
Braithwaite's trial was set to begin in the High Court at Auckland this morning before a judge alone and run for three weeks.
However her lawyer Quentin Duff called for a jury trial instead, arguing that her circumstances had changed. A fellow former director of the company, Anthony Banbrook, was supposed to stand trial with her on the same charge of making an untrue statement in a registered prospectus but pleaded guilty last month.
This morning Justice Andrews said court scheduling allowed for Braithwaite's trial to be held next week, but it meant counsel had just two weeks to put their cases.
John Dixon, for the Crown, earlier argued that a three-week trial was unlikely to be slotted into the busy court schedule until at least mid-2013, and such a delay would be contrary to the public interest.
While the National Finance matter and specifically the case against Braithwaite might not be as complex as other finance company cases, these were generally better dealt with by a judge, he said.
Duff said his client was entitled to a jury trial as she was no longer standing trial with Banbrook who had previously opposed a trial by jury.
Banbrook will be sentenced next month.
Braithwaite is the former wife of Trevor Ludlow, the founder of National Finance who was found guilty last year on charges brought by Serious Fraud Office. He was sentenced to five years and seven months' jail.
Ludlow also pleaded guilty to charges brought by the Financial Markets Authority and was sentenced in January to an additional nine months' imprisonment.
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