man who defrauded longtime friends and members of his church
of nearly $300,000 has been sent to prison for three years
and four months.
"You saw some of these people as easy pickings. It's greedy
and there's no other word for it,'' Judge Michael Crosbie
told Brent Garry Murray (45), a computer salesman.
Murray was for sentence in the Dunedin District Court
yesterday on four charges of fraud and one of using a
document to obtain pecuniary advantage.
He had initially denied the charges relating to $297,712.50
provided to him by four victims whom he had promised to
repay, but then pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial
at Invercargill on November 5.
Murray approached associates and friends between 2008 and
2010 and made up situations and stories to persuade them to
provide him with money.
A police summary of facts said that in one case, he told
friends he had been given a Lotteries Commission grant to
provide computers to a women's refuge, but had to raise the
same amount himself first before the grant would be released.
In another, he told the same people he needed money urgently
to pay a builder and had a mortgage extension pre-approved,
but there was a delay in releasing the money.
Those victims became aware of the ruse when they were
contacted as unsecured creditors.
They were $10,000 out of pocket.
He told a church friend who invested $225,000 in his business
he had a contract to supply electrical goods to an Australian
company, and supplied faked documentation to prove it.
Another friend lent him $10,000 because he said he was about
to lose his home. He told them he was going to sell his car
and pay them back, but it was later discovered his car was
In another case, he faked an invoice for supplies so a
$48,712.50 loan could be raised from a finance company to
repay another loan he took, leaving the person who originally
loaned him the money to repay the finance company.
Judge Crosbie said Murray's offending was large-scale,
serious fraud and the most aggravating factor was the gross
abuse of trust involved.
His victims had suffered a great deal as a result of his
actions, he told Murray.
''They feel guilty at not stopping you earlier, but they
shouldn't because those who manipulate people through trust
and friendship invariably win people over. That's human
They were stressed and the relationships of some of the
victims had been affected, and many of them had been harmed
financially as a result. One couple could not buy the house
they had planned to; others had to increase their own
Crown counsel John Young, of Invercargill, submitted Murray's
prime motivator was greed, while Murray's counsel, Brian
Kilkelly, submitted he was a proud man who did not want
people to know his computer equipment supply business, BGSM
Enterprises, was failing and he was doing everything he could
to keep it afloat.
Judge Crosbie told Murray: ''If you see people as an easy fix
to help you out of a bind, and you go back to them, there has
to be an element of greed.''
The only mitigating factor was his guilty plea, but it came
too late to make any real difference to the sentence, the
There were no aggravating factors personal to Murray, who had
no relevant previous convictions. Mr Kilkelly said he was
remorseful and would apologise face to face to his victims if
Judge Crosbie said if Murray was a Christian person, of
course he should have some remorse.
In these cases, the court often distinguished between the
types of victims. Financial institutions, for example, could
probably withstand losses more readily than individuals.
From a starting point of three years and nine months' jail,
the judge discounted five months for the late guilty plea,
which at least meant the victims did not have to give
evidence at trial.