A Gore man was still protesting his innocence yesterday as
Judge Philip Moran sentenced him for illegally trading as a
real estate agent.
Ewen McLeod (65) helped a Gore couple sell their house last
year for a fee of $500, regardless of whether the house sold.
He placed newspaper advertisements, held an open home and
dealt with potential buyers.
McLeod argued his activities amounted to no more than general
advice to assist the vendors, something permitted under the
Real Estate Agents Act, but Judge Moran found him guilty
after a defended hearing in Gore in July.
During sentencing in the Invercargill District Court, McLeod
told the judge he still believed he was ''completely
innocent'' and had done nothing more than help out friends.
''What I was paid didn't even cover lunch, let alone buy
petrol and cover other expenses.''
Judge Moran told McLeod he was ''a slow learner'' by
continuing to insist he did nothing wrong.
''The moment you dealt with purchasers, you were acting as an
''Excuse me. Can I excuse you?'' McLeod, who represented
himself, said, reaching into a bundle of papers.
''Shsh,'' the judge replied.
''I have already convicted you. If you disagree with my
decision, take it upstairs [to appeal].''
McLeod is the second person or company in New Zealand
successfully prosecuted by the Real Estate Agents Authority
Judge Moran said real estate agents were required to be
licensed to protect consumers and illegal trading was viewed
seriously. The maximum fine for a company was $100,000, and
for an individual $40,000.
McLeod had a six-page criminal history which included a term
of imprisonment for obtaining money by deception, the judge
said. His fraud convictions meant he would not have got a
real estate agent's licence.
''Yours was a calculated attempt to circumvent the Act and
there was a commercial element to it in that you were
charging a fee. On the credit side, you caused no actual
He said McLeod had been asked to provide evidence of his
financial position before sentencing but had not done so.
In answer to the judge's questions, McLeod said he owned a
car and few other assets and had less than $5000 in the bank.
When asked if he had any dependants, McLeod replied: ''No,
but the girlfriend's costing a lot.''
Judge Moran said he would have liked to have fined McLeod
$18,000 to reflect the seriousness of his offending but
realised he could not afford to pay a fine of that order.
Instead, he fined McLeod $5000.