Lie about job to save friend from jail backfires

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014

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A man's attempt to stop a friend going to jail has resulted in both of them ending up behind bars.

In the Hawera District Court this week, co-offenders Deon Leslie Marriner and Julian Gunn appeared before Judge Allan Roberts for sentencing on a charge of perverting the course of justice. They had both earlier pleaded guilty.

The charge stemmed from an incident last year when Marriner avoided being sent to jail after a false letter was produced to the court that said he had a job - a lie that was further maintained by Gunn.

On August 13 last year, Marriner appeared in the Hawera District Court after breaching his release conditions.

When the presiding judge indicated a prison term was likely as punishment, Marriner produced a letter which stated he was employed by a company called HRV.

The judge asked Marriner's then lawyer to confirm the letter's content.

A call was subsequently made to a person the lawyer believed to be the company director, but who in fact was Gunn masquerading in the role.

Gunn then repeated the lie that Marriner was employed and this information was provided back to the court.

As a result, the judge sentenced Marriner to community work rather than imprisonment.

However, when attempts were made to use the letter a second time, following a further breach of conditions by Marriner, the deceit was exposed.

"Justice was literally derailed and taken down a side path," Judge Roberts said. Employment was one thing judges considered when they dealt with offenders at sentencing and in this case the judge involved had been "swayed by a lie," he said.

Judge Roberts said Marriner, who already had 109 convictions, had long- held dependency problems and a history of imprisonment.

He sentenced him to 12 months' jail.

Gunn, whose employer was in court to support him during his sentencing yesterday, had 48 convictions, including nine for dishonesty.

Judge Roberts said although Gunn may not have benefited from the offending in the same way Marriner had, this did not detract from his role in it.

"You offered to write the letter because you wanted to keep Marriner out of trouble," he said.

Gunn also received 12 months' imprisonment.

He was also sentenced to an additional 12 months' jail for his seventh charge of driving while disqualified, and a concurrent sentence of one month's imprisonment for breaching his release conditions.

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