SCF trial appeals dropped
South Canterbury Finance accused Robert White and Ed Sullivan have dropped their appeals against the High Court decision for their fraud trial to be heard by a judge alone.
The case arose out of the $1.58 billion collapse of the finance company in 2010.
In a minute issued this afternoon, Justice Paul Heath said Sullivan and White had abandoned their appeals and he released his reasons for ruling the trial should be heard by a judge alone in the High Court at Timaru.
In the case of accused Terry Hutton, the Crown is being put to proof on his charges of false accounting. He will be formally arraigned at the High Court at Timaru on December 2.
The complexity of the trial would make it too difficult for jurors, Justice Heath ruled.
''I consider whether the accused's right to trial by jury is outweighed by the likelihood that potential jurors will not be able to perform their duties effectively. The accused face a total of 20 different charges, contained in 12 counts in the indictment.
''The particulars of each of those counts make it clear that it will be necessary to consider several transactions to determine whether false statements were made. A jury would need to be directed not only on the elements of the particular charges but also on the purposes of relevant provisions of the Securities Act 1978 in order to understand the context of the charges.
''In my view, all of those factors weigh significantly in favour of a judge-alone trial and demonstrate a likelihood that potential jurors will not be able to perform fact-finding duties effectively.
''Once I had determined that the trial was not to be before a jury, I concluded that there was no good reason to change the venue.''
On the first day of pre-trial applications on August 6, a single charge of false accounting against SCF's former chief financial officer, Graeme Robert Brown, was dropped.
Following that, three defendants, Edward Sullivan, White and Lachie McLeod, were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to a total of 18 charges, which were brought by the Serious Fraud Office in December 2011.
White faces four charges, one of entering the government deposit guarantee scheme by deception, and three of failing to declare related party lending in a SCF prospectus.
Accountant Terrence Hutton was not arraigned at that time as his charges were the subject of further discussion.
The 12 to 16-week trial has been set down to start on March 12.
McLeod had applied for a discharge but was unsuccessful.
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