Accounting has always been big in Graham McCready's life.
Once it was his occupation; then holding people to account became a crusade.
But yesterday the accusing finger swung back on McCready, 68, and he was in the dock in the High Court at Wellington on a charge of blackmail.
It was a turnaround for the man who once boasted of jumping on the bonnet of a moving car to serve the driver with court papers on behalf of clients.
He earned a public profile when he took a private prosecution against Trevor Mallard in 2009, accusing the Hutt South MP of assault over an altercation with National's Tau Henare in the lobby of Parliament.
More recently, he has been trying to bring a private prosecution against ACT leader John Banks.
His own journey to court began in July 2010, when he threatened to expose claims that a company director was guilty of financial impropriety and was mentally ill. McCready claimed he was acting in the best interests of minority shareholders, and would keep quiet if the man surrendered his company position and signed over his majority shareholding to McCready.
The victim, whose name was suppressed along with that of his company, promptly told McCready where to go, Justice David Collins said yesterday.
McCready was charged with blackmail and pleaded guilty on the day his trial was to have started.
He was sentenced yesterday to community detention - he must be at his home in the Wellington suburb of Miramar between 7pm and 7am for the next six months.
The victim read a statement to the court about the impact McCready's offence had on him. At the time, he had been ill. Depression had forced him to step away from his business and leave it in the hands of others. But problems arose and, before he had recovered, he had to return to work to save his business.
Then along came McCready with his outrageous, shocking, threatening and disturbing claims, the man said.
The problems McCready caused cost the company about $80,000, a figure that McCready quibbled with later as he sat outside the court.
The victim said he still found it hard to understand why McCready did it.
It felt as if the whole episode had been a game to McCready, in which he misused the courts for his personal crusade. During one court hearing, McCready had offered him a toothbrush, saying the man would need it where he was going.
For the sentencing, McCready wrote the victim a four-sentence apology saying he had no excuse for what he did. "My conduct was criminal, unnecessary, and I am sure caused you some considerable distress."
After yesterday's hearing, the victim said he accepted the apology and hoped never to have to deal with McCready again.
McCready's sentence will confine him to home overnight only. In 2009 he was sentenced to six months' home detention - a 24-hour confinement - on charges of making false tax returns.
His court days are not over. Last month he registered his own company, New Zealand Private Prosecution Service, intended as a consumer watchdog.
And he is still trying to lay a private prosecution against Mr Banks over investment statements.
The case against Mr Mallard ended when McCready accepted a guilty plea to a less serious charge of fighting in a public place. Mr Mallard was convicted and ordered to pay $500 to the Salvation Army.
- The Dominion Post