A smooth-talking conman who stole about $1.4 million from his
20 mostly vulnerable victims has been handed a five-year
Claiming he was a man of considerable wealth, 72-year-old
Leister Monk used his eloquence and charm to persuade
investors to give him tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds
of thousands, of dollars, but he spent it all satisfying his
compulsive gambling habit.
His offending lasted more than 20 years and left some of his
victims' lives irreparably damaged.
In Manukau District Court today (Fri), Judge Jonathan Moses
imposed a sentence of five years imprisonment with a minimum
non-parole period of two years and six months, after Monk
pleaded guilty to 19 fraud charges last December.
The court was told that Monk befriended potential investors,
representing himself as a wealthy businessman and sometimes
saying he had a multi-million dollar inheritance coming his
He convinced them he needed loans in order to retrieve
offshore funds, and persuaded others to invest in a film
which promised to be lucrative.
Judge Moses said many of those on whom Monk preyed were
single women going through difficult times in their lives.
"You are an articulate and persuasive person. These are good
qualities but you have chosen to use them in a destructive
and criminal way,'' the judge said.
"You have left a trail of anger, despair and hurt that time
can never heal.''
When Di Sinclaire met Monk she was grieving the death of her
"For me to hand out money to someone I hardly knew was
totally out of character and was a testimony to how seriously
depressed and unhappy I had become,'' she told the court in
her victim impact statement.
"Looking back, there was nothing about him that was real or
true. Leister Monk's whole life was a lie and it's a measure
of his intellect that he was able to keep up the stories,
because while he was lying to me he was lying to many others
at the same time.''
She added: "Until I met him I'd never met anybody evil.''
Jim Allison was left destitute as a result of Monk's
offending and died before he could see him brought to
justice. Mr Allison's daughter, Sarah Neill, spoke on his
"While our father was not physically assaulted by Mr Monk, we
believe that the stress and anxiety caused by Mr Monk's
actions contributed to our father's cardiovascular condition
that ultimately killed him.''
Mr Allison was reduced to living on a meagre income as a
result of continuously loaning money to Monk between 1990 to
"His entire world-view was reduced to raising funds to fulfil
Monk's empty promises of investment returns.''
The court also heard from Elaine Dallimore, who entered into
a relationship with Monk in 1993 when she was working at an
Monk persuaded her to allow him to be on credit and she
"He showed me legal documentation of various substantial
investments he had in New York as proof that he would be able
to repay me. On the strength of that information I advanced
the defendant more and more money.''
She loaned him more than $108,000, borrowing against her
house in Auckland, withdrawing from her credit card and
borrowing from family and friends.
As a result she said she lost her job, was forced to sell her
home and lost her superannuation fund.
"I was left with in debt, and all my trust and confidence was
Monk, who acted as his own lawyer, made a lengthy submission
to the court in which he apologised to his victims.
He said his motivation had never been greed and his offending
was entirely fuelled by his gambling habit.
"It [the money] invariably went to the TAB,'' he said.
"I was a compulsive gambler in the throws of what can best be
described as an awful disease.''
The court was told that Monk had previously been convicted of
about 100 dishonesty offences and has been to prison four
times since 1961.