'Tindallgate' bouncer loses appeal

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 11:03 17/07/2014
Jonathan Dixon
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
CONVICTED: Jonathan Dixon during his sentencing in the Invercargill District Court.

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"Tindallgate" bouncer Jonathan Dixon has failed in a bid to overturn his conviction for illegally accessing security footage in a Queenstown bar.

Dixon was sentenced in August last year to four months' community detention and 300 hours' community work after being found guilty of dishonestly obtaining CCTV video footage. He had accessed a computer system during the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

The footage apparently showed England rugby captain Mike Tindall, who is married to the Queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, flirting with an old flame at Queenstown's Base bar.

Dixon appealed both his conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal. He argued he could not have dishonestly obtained property because the footage he acquired was not "property" as defined in the Crimes Act.

In a judgment released today, the court agreed but said Dixon had been charged under the wrong part of the act.

The court quashed his conviction and replaced it with a conviction for accessing a computer system and thereby dishonestly obtaining a benefit.

In appealing his sentence, Dixon had argued the sentencing judge had overstated the seriousness of the offending and imposed a sentence that was "manifestly excessive".

The Court of Appeal rejected that argument, finding a significant breach of trust was involved in the offending and the sentence was appropriate.

"The CCTV footage was there for the specific purpose of protecting patrons of the bar; Mr Dixon's use of the footage was for the opposite purpose of exploiting one of the patrons," the judgment said.

"As a result of his employment, Mr Dixon knew of the footage's existence and was entrusted with access to it. He misled the receptionist and dishonestly accessed the footage for an unauthorised purpose.

"He did so at the expense of his employer's reputation and that of the bar."

During his trial, Crown solicitor Mary-Jane Thomas said Dixon knew he had no right to go into the computer system but did so to sell it to English tabloid The Sun.

He later uploaded the video to YouTube, Thomas said.

Dixon's lawyer, John Westgate, said during the trial that Dixon accepted he had accessed the bar's computer system, but believed he had had a right to do so because he had full access to the Base computer.

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