Christmas at home after accidental credit

Man sentenced after Holden spending spree

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 11:53 12/12/2013
Denys Jeremy Douglas
JOHN COWPLAND/Fairfax NZ
HOLDEN CONTEMPT: Denys Jeremy Douglas, who withdrew $170,000 mistakenly credited to him by BNZ and spent it all on Holdens, outside the Napier District Court.

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A man who went on a spending spree on Holdens with money accidently deposited in his account will be spending Christmas on home detention.

Hastings man Denys Jeremy Douglas, 61, a sickness beneficiary found himself $170,000 richer in mid-2011 after the BNZ accidentally deposited the sum in his account. 

In less than a month, he had withdrawn it all and spent it on Holdens. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting a man by jamming a baseball bat in his mouth and breaking his teeth.

At Douglas' sentencing in Napier District Court this morning his lawyer Russell Fairbrother QC said Douglas did not believe he acted dishonestly.

He said Douglas had been expecting a large deposit into his account around the time the money was deposited as he believed he had won a lottery.

Mr Fairbrother said Douglas had no evidence of his lottery win and accepted that his defence would not be strong "in front of 12 sensible people".

"His whole world collapsed when his bank would not discuss this matter in a constructive manner," Mr Fairbrother said.

Douglas would "spend his dying days believing he was the victim of the bank's activity", Mr Fairbrother said.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh sentenced Douglas to one year home detention.

The judge acknowledged Douglas had been diagnosed as an alcoholic, his guilty plea, and that the fraudulent offending "wasn't overly sophisticated".

Douglas lived a modest life on his $364 weekly benefit until June 2011, when he applied to BNZ to top up his mortgage. The bank agreed to lend him $7000 for home maintenance, a summary of facts states.

That would have taken his total mortgage to $172,250. But instead, the bank mistakenly credited that total to his account.

Douglas initially withdrew the $7000 he was entitled to. Days later, he withdrew $62,000 from his mortgage account and obtained a bank cheque for $51,000, with which he bought a 2006 Holden Clubsport R8 from a Napier car yard. He later changed the ownership into someone else's name.

The next day, he withdrew $30,000 in cash from the BNZ's Havelock North branch, $800 from its cash machine, and transferred $14,948 to Oxford Finance Corporation.

He used this to buy a 2002 Holden Commodore SS ute at a Hastings car yard, which he registered in the name of a friend, Barry Bell. He later traded in the Commodore for another Clubsport, again registered to Mr Bell.

Douglas then took his daughter to a third car yard and paid cash for a 2002 Holden Commodore VX, which he registered in her name. Again he traded the car, and used the proceeds to buy a 2007 Holden ute.

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In all, he spent $171,546 in less than a month. It wasn't until his mortgage repayments went into arrears that the bank noticed its mistake.

Douglas told the bank he won some money in a lottery and had been expecting a Work and Income payment around the time that the large amount from the bank was credited to his account. He claimed it was "normal" for him to make $50,000 withdrawals, according to the summary of facts.

He pleaded guilty to seven charges of using a document and three charges of money-laundering when he appeared in the Napier District Court earlier this month.

He was sentenced today on those charges and a charge of assault with a weapon.

Police recovered three vehicles, with a combined value of $121,980. The BNZ is taking legal steps to recover money owed to it, including seeking an order to "repatriate" the Clubsport that was bought with a bank cheque.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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