'One dirty deal' could ruin rural reputation

Last updated 06:30 31/01/2014

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A man accused of stealing livestock worth hundreds of thousands of dollars has told the Invercargill District Court "one dirty deal" would have ruined his reputation in Wanaka.

Simon Robert Hawkins faces 17 charges of theft relating to deer, sheep and barley taken from Criffel Deer Farm and Wanaka farmer Grant Cochrane between 2009 and 2011.

Three charges - theft of velvet, theft of hard antler and theft of trophy stags - were dropped yesterday, while charges of theft of stags and barley were amended to receiving stags and barley.

Called as a defence witness, Hawkins said he was selling stock and building up businesses in the Wanaka area to raise money and buy land.

"My goal was to have a farm there and raise my kids on it."

The court was told of a number of occasions when Hawkins would buy stock or lease land off local farmers and would not enter written agreements with them, instead making payment arrangements on the basis of trust with a handshake or "over a cup of tea".

Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield put it to Hawkins it would be detrimental to his reputation and ability to do future business in Wanaka if he "put one across" farmers like Mr Cochrane, and that "one dirty deal [would] be it".

Hawkins agreed it would.

Hawkins also described the first time he met Dean Herd, who was jointly charged with Hawkins and pleaded guilty to all charges.

Hawkins said Herd was as "nice as anything". Herd had approached him about selling 19 deer to Alliance, saying he had picked them up on the West Coast and could not graze them any longer, Hawkins said.

Herd had asked Hawkins to sell them in his account as he did not have a GST number and did not want to pay tax on them, he said.

Mr Mansfield asked if Hawkins had thought there was anything inappropriate or odd about this deal at the time.

Hawkins said no, and agreed, when asked, it was just a favour he was doing for Hawkins, like he had done for other people.

The trial, before Judge Michael Turner, continues today.

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- The Southland Times

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