Serial conman avoids jail term

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 11:14 01/07/2014
Brian Hunter
Fairfax NZ
SERIAL CONMAN: Brian Damian Hunter should be helped, not punished, a judge says.

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A serial conman who impersonated a lawyer and a pilot has avoided jail.

Judge Jonathan Down said Brian Hunter had "deep psychological issues" and it would be better to help him rather than punish him with a jail sentence.

Hunter was sentenced today on his 183rd and 184th conviction after being found guilty of two charges of obtaining by deception in a judge-only trial in Napier District Court earlier this year. He will serve five months home detention and was ordered to undergo a psychological assessment and any treatment prescribed.

In his latest offending, Hunter, 55, purported variously to be Michael O'Hara, supposedly a Kapiti Coast lawyer, Brian O'Hara, and Brian Shaw, when employing two removal firms to shift his effects from Ashhurst to Waipukurau in April 2012, and Waipukurau to Hastings six months later.

Both companies believed they were e-mailing or speaking to one of the O'Haras or Shaw. The companies were left with outstanding bills of $5434.70 and $2600. One was awarded payment after taking Hunter to the Disputes Tribunal, but the debt remains unpaid.

Judge Down ordered Hunter to pay the remaining debt of $2600.

Lawyer, Phil Jensen said Hunter was a "complex character" who hadn't opened up about his offending.

Judge Down said Hunter was abused as a child, offered no support and was now a "querulous complainer."

Hunter showed no remorse for his serial offending and Down doubted whether any sentence would stop him re-offending. However, he thought the best option for Hunter was for the court to help him deal with his "deep seated psychological issues".

In January Hunter was sentenced to 300 hours' community work in the same court after pleading guilty to flying a plane without a licence. He used the name Brian Shaw, and told the vendor of a plane that he was a pilot.

In 1998 he was convicted of fraud and endangering lives after impersonating a flying instructor.

FANTASY LIFE

Brian Damian Hunter, 55, now has 184 convictions. Nearly all involve dishonesty offending.

He was first convicted in Wellington in 1974.

He has received many non-custodial sentences, and was jailed in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1998.

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- The Dominion Post

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