Attorney-general Chris Finlayson.
Two Dunedin ACC claimants are suing the Attorney-general
and two private investigators for damages over the wrongful
search of their homes.
The cases relate to the separate searches of ACC claimants
Bruce Van Essen's and Jason Patterson's homes in 2006, which
both say were "unlawful and unreasonable".
Both search warrants were as a result of investigations by
Dunedin private investigators who were engaged by ACC to
investigate possible fraud. The private investigator in Mr
Van Essen's case was Peter Gibbons, while in Mr Patterson's
case it was Graham Scott.
Justice Christian Whata ruled in the High Court at Dunedin
yesterday that the cases should be heard together.
Mr Van Essen told the court the search of his home in
September 2006 had affected his mental health and the
relationship with his partner and family.
Mr Van Essen, who broke down at times while giving evidence,
said since the search he was in constant fear of being put
through the same ordeal again.
"I feel horribly insecure not only in my home, but also in
public," he said.
The failure of police to return a memory stick containing
"intimate" images of him and his partner obtained during the
search also worried him.
"I am mortified that it might end up in the wrong hands."
He also complained that police failed to show him a search
warrant and did not observe non-police officers, private
investigator Mr Gibbons, non-sworn Dunedin police employee
Kelly Knight and an ACC employee, who took part in the
He said there was no need for the search to take place as he
would have provided the information to ACC anyway.
"I have never attempted to nor defrauded them in any way."
Counsel for the Attorney-general Fergus Sinclair said under
cross-examination the police officers involved in the search,
Constable Andrew Henderson and Sergeant Sheldon Kindley,
remembered presenting a search warrant and observing the
non-police officers throughout.
They also did not believe they had taken the memory stick
from the property, Mr Sinclair said.
He put it to Mr Van Essen that given his "distressed"
emotional state at the time of the search his memory could be
Mr Van Essen replied saying that while he was distressed at
the time, his memory was clear.
Counsel for Mr Gibbons David Robinson, who is also
representing Mr Scott, referred to Mr Van Essen's Trademe
account and work as a computer technician, saying it was
reasonable to come to the conclusion that Mr Van Essen was
involved in commercial activity while receiving ACC payments.
Mr Van Essen and Mr Patterson both say that police were in
breach of the Bill of Rights Act 1990 when they searched
their homes and that both police and private investigators
were trespassing in carrying out the search.
They also say police acted in an improper manner and with
malice against them.
Mr Van Essen also says Const Henderson acted with malice when
procuring a search warrant against him.
Const Henderson is the son-in-law of the private
investigator, former senior Dunedin detective Mr Gibbons,
Van Essen is also suing.
In his opening statement, counsel for Mr Van Essen, Michael
Starling, who is also representing Mr Patterson, said the
search warrant was obtained on the basis of information
provided to police by Mr Gibbons which contained "numerous
errors and or misleading statements".
In swearing an affidavit for the search warrant, Const
Henderson failed to acknowledge that Mr Gibbons was his
father-in-law and failed to independently verify the
allegations made against Mr Van Essen.
Justice Whata earlier ruled out an application for both cases
to be stricken out saying it was "preferable" for issues to
be raised in a "full trial".
The case continues.