Family rejects 'black sheep'

01:09, Jun 12 2014
Fraud suspects
WANTED: Paul James Bennett, right, and his partner, Simone Anne Wright.

A man sought in connection with an alleged $250,000 helicopter company rip-off has been disowned by his family.

Paul James Bennett, 51, used to send his younger brother a birthday card annually but that stopped about six years ago.

His family haven't heard from him since.

Paul Bennett's BMW
RARE BEAMER: Alleged fraudster Paul James Bennett and his partner Simone Wright may be driving a rare BMW such as the one pictured.

". . . he's been wiped from the family," his brother Russell Bennett said.

"He's an embarrassment to our family.

"My parents are very straight-up people - we're all honest - and he's just a black sheep."


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Paul Bennett and his partner, Simone Anne Wright, 37, had been living at a $900 a week, three-bedroom rental property in Middleton, Christchurch, until they told their landlord they were going on holiday early last month.

A millionaire helicopter company owner said he spoke to Bennett on May 6 and queried him about invoices he suspected had been digitally manipulated.

The couple, who drive a rare silver BMW, registration GGN840, have not been heard from since.

The owner says that using the alias David Kite, Bennett was contracted by the company to find several helicopters and other parts overseas.

He then allegedly fabricated and inflated invoices for items he had supposedly bought and was reimbursed by the company, the wealthy businessman said.

Police appealed for information about Bennett and Wright in connection with an ongoing fraud investigation on Saturday. There is an active warrant out for their arrest.

Detective Sergeant Craig Farrant said police had received at least eight reported sightings of the couple since the case was publicised at the weekend. They are both known to use various aliases.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also confirmed it was investigating a complaint about Bennett, which was lodged on May 14. His private pilot's licence was revoked in 2006, a spokesman said in a statement.

"The CAA is aware of multiple aliases used by Mr Bennett and this was one of the factors considered at the time his licence was revoked."

Speaking from his home in Tauranga, Russell Bennett said his older brother had a "history of fraud" from a young age.

"I don't want nothing to do with him."

His elderly parents, James and Glennis, had disowned him as well, because "he doesn't tell the truth".

"I think it's a disease actually what he's got - he just can't help himself.

"He's the sort of guy that if you meet him on the street you could chat to him and you'd instantly probably like him because he knows what to say to people. What a shame he's not a businessman eh?

"He'd be up there with the best of them."

Russell Bennett said he doubted his brother would come forward and talk to police about their ongoing fraud investigation.

Paul Bennett was born in the Waikato and has a long reported history of eluding police, here and abroad. Documents reveal he changed his name by deed poll to Paul John Williams.

He once talked his way into becoming the helicopter pilot for Hollywood actor Russell Crowe but was later found to not have a licence, it was reported.

Bennett is known to have sold Rolex watches on Trade Me using the alias Dennis Kite.

The helicopter company's owner has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Wright and Bennett's arrest.

* Anyone with information is urged to call Christchurch police on 03 363 7400 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The Press