Judgement on threat to witness upheld

A Dunedin man who threatened a witness set to give evidence against his brother has had his appeal dismissed.

In January, Corey Paul Ledgerwood (28) was jailed for two years and nine months for perverting the course of justice and two charges of breaching parole.

He appealed Judge Michael Crosbie's ruling to the High Court, claiming the prison term was ``manifestly excessive''.

But Justice Rachel Dunningham's recently released judgement upheld the Dunedin District Court's sentence.

Ledgerwood contacted the victim in his brother's case in October in an attempt to stop the man from giving evidence at trial.

His efforts turned out to be pointless because his brother eventually pleaded guilty and no trial was held.

At Ledgerwood's sentencing, the court heard how his messages to the victim included ``swearing at him, abusing him and referring to him as a snitch''.

``You made reference to the matter before the court and asked if he was going to get into the dock and nark,'' Judge Michael Crosbie said.

Ledgerwood also told the man he would come to court, film his testimony and put it on Facebook, and later challenged him to a fight.

``It strikes at the very heart of the criminal justice system and everything we do in this place,'' Judge Crosbie said of the offending.

Justice Dunningham agreed with that assessment and made reference to a Court of Appeal decision which addressed the crime of perverting the course of justice.

``Any attempt to disturb the process of the administration of justice is to be deplored and in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, to be met with a moderately lengthy term of imprisonment,'' it said.

Counsel Brian Kilkelly said the fact Ledgerwood's brother pleaded guilty and the witness was not ultimately dissuaded from giving evidence was significant.

But Justice Dunningham said it should have little bearing on sentence.

She was similarly unconvinced a sentence increase for previous offending was excessive.

Ledgerwood had convictions for drink-driving, aggravated robbery, false pretences and noncompliance with sentences, the High Court heard.

The judge said with that list, the sentence could have been longer.


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