Helpful lawyer backed after client turns ugly

Last updated 05:00 24/03/2014

Relevant offers

Crime

Long-running pokie gambling fraud trial enters final stages Wellington musician's van stolen twice in four days Man pepper sprayed and arrested after incident in Cromwell Police find offender covered in blood after drunken night of 'mayhem' No conviction for police officer who hit pedestrian with his car in Wellington Thieves steal van with $30,000 worth of paintings inside Man scams six restaurants out of food and drink with promises to pay later Police say teen made false complaint about abduction High risk offender Darren Jolly jailed for extended supervision order breaches Warrant issued for absent fraudster Ann-Marie Kathrine Smith in Christchurch

When a longstanding client asked Keith Jefferies to represent him on a case in Tauranga, the Wellington lawyer took the job and paid his own travel costs.

And when Abraham Eparaima Kohai ran out of money part way through his trial, Mr Jefferies stood him dinner and paid the motel bill for a couple of nights. At his trial, Kohai - who killed a man in Wellington in 1989 - was acquitted of five child sex charges but convicted of nine others. He then accused Mr Jefferies of incompetence.

The Court of Appeal has now sided with the lawyer, saying he had "a difficult brief" and had done his best in "trying circumstances".

The court also dismissed Kohai's appeal against his convictions and rejected another unrelated ground of appeal.

Kohai, known as Rabbit, was sentenced to 17 years in jail for sexual assaults on three girls under the age of 12.

The three appeal judges said they preferred Mr Jefferies' evidence.

Kohai retracted some of his claims and admitted others were false, including that Mr Jefferies did not meet him to discuss his defence until the day before the trial started.

The court said it was notable that, when Kohai was arrested, he was living in the central North Island, and Mr Jefferies lived and worked in Wellington. The lawyer had represented Kohai in previous cases. "At his own expense, Mr Jefferies travelled from Wellington to Tauranga at least five times to represent Kohai at status and pre-trial hearings in this proceeding.

"He also funded Kohai's accommodation expenses on occasions during the trial."

Speaking after the Court of Appeal's decision was issued, Mr Jefferies said he was not complaining about the expenses he met. Legal aid paid a fee for appearing at the trial but not the travel and associated expenses, so Mr Jefferies ended up paying at least $3000 on travel and accommodation while representing Kohai.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content