Businessman Craig Nisbet jailed for lying in a sworn affidavit
A businessman "entrepreneur" has been jailed for lying in a sworn affidavit.
Craig Nisbet spent Wednesday trying to convince a jury he was not guilty of perjury, but had a change of mind overnight and on Thursday morning told them he was guilty.
The trial, before Judge Tony Adeane in Napier District Court, saw Crown prosecutor Cameron Stuart outline a case that was always going to be hard for Nisbet to defend.
The 54-year-old Nisbet had written and submitted a sworn affidavit in an unrelated court matter that subsequently proved to be false.
Stuart told the court Nisbet had deliberately tried to mislead the court by lying in his affidavit. For that he had been charged with perjury, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years jail.
Nisbet signed the ten-page affidavit in advance of a court hearing in late 2015. In it he rejected allegations he had acted in an alleged manner.
The affidavit was prepared by Nisbet's lawyer, who took instruction from him over telephone. Nisbet then collected the finished document and swore it in front of another solicitor. He had signed it and put his initials at the foot of each page.
But when it came to the court hearing Nisbet gave evidence that was completely different to what was in his affidavit.
"The Crown says the defendant knew what was in the affidavit and knew that it was incorrect," Stuart said.
Nisbet's lawyer Philip Ross, who described his client as an "entrepreneur", said the incorrect information in the affidavit had occurred because Nisbet had relayed it to his lawyer over the phone from a remote location with bad cellphone coverage.
Nisbet told the jury he had collected the completed affidavit from his lawyer's secretary, and had rushed to another law office to have it sworn, then returned it to the secretary.
He didn't read it before signing it because "I was told it was urgent and that it had to be filed that day".
Nisbet said the first time he read it was when he appeared in the witness stand at the hearing.
Under cross-examination Nisbet said his lawyer, whose name is suppressed, "appears to be good" but the affidavit was "very badly written" and "quite contradictory".
He claimed he had never said the things included in his affidavit and "they are my lawyer's words, not mine".
He also claimed to have never spoken face to face with his lawyer about the affidavit.
Nisbet said he had "absolutely not" tried to deliberately mislead the court.
That was on Wednesday. On Thursday the jury walked in, the charge was read to Nisbet again, and he pleaded guilty.
Judge Adeane told jurors there had been "some discussion overnight and some further inquiries had been made".
The judge said perjury was "a serious matter" and Nisbet's change of plea "carries with it an acknowledgement that there may also have been some criticism available of the evidence which the defendant has given in court with this matter".
Nisbet was convicted and remanded in custody until sentencing next month.