Name suppression for Auckland professional

20:29, Feb 24 2010

A prominent professional has been given interim name suppression despite being discharged from the single charge he faced.

Judge Colin Dougherty continued blanket suppressions on the names of two of three people charged in the case, their occupations, types of occupations, ages, addresses, areas they lived in, the charges and the nature of the charges, in the Auckland District Court yesterday.

The session had originally been intended to deal with pre-trial applications for a March 8 trial of the three accused. The professional man had applied to have the charge discharged on the basis that mobile phone wire taps were inadmissible.

The courtroom was locked for 45 minutes as a witness protection issue was dealt with.

When it was reopened one of the three, Nicholas Henry Voerman, a 51-year-old unemployed man, entered the dock and had a charge read to him.

To a media inquiry, in court, Judge Dougherty said Voerman's name and the charge he pleaded guilty to was not suppressed, but in reporting it, journalists had to do it in the context of the suppression orders applying to the other two.

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Voerman pleaded guilty to money laundering in June and July 2008, in that he moved the proceeds of the illegal drug Ecstasy.

The sum of money involved was disputed but between $100,000 and $150,000.

Judge Dougherty sentenced Voerman to 12 months jail, concurrent with an earlier 3 year jail sentence, and he had fines of $3812 waived and replaced with one month jail, also concurrent.

Voerman was escorted out of the court room, through the judges' entrance, accompanied by plain clothed policemen.

The prominent professional was then dealt with and discharged when the Crown withdrew the single charge. Argument was offered seeking a discharge of the third accused, who also has blanket suppression, but this decision was reserved.

Barrister Andrew Speed argued for permanent name suppression saying that despite the acquittal, the damage to his client would be significant.

"Where an acquittal has followed, public interest is of light weight," Mr Speed said. "I make the observation that the good name of a professional person is paramount in the importance of dealing with the public."

He said that there was "no proper evidence" that would point to alleged criminal behaviour of the person who had now been discharged.

"The only contextual behaviour to excite public interest in this case would be a recitation of inadmissible evidence."

This was a compelling basis for permanent name suppression.

The Crown opposed name suppression. Judge Dougherty reserved his decision on suppression.

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