Fraudster notches up 184 convictions

Brian Hunter
Brian Hunter

A 55-year-old Hawke's Bay man, described as a "serial fraudster" and "querulous complainer", has been sentenced for impersonating a lawyer and now holds 184 convictions, including one for impersonating a pilot.

Brian Hunter was sentenced to five months' home detention today, after being found guilty of two charges of obtaining by deception at Napier District Court in February.

Judge Jonathan Down said Hunter, who had "underlying psychological issues", will undergo a psychiatric assessment and complete any treatment or counselling if required as part of the sentence.

Judge Down found the "serial fraudster" guilty in February's judge alone trial, after he fabricated the identities of Kapiti Coast lawyers Michael O'Hara and Brian Shaw.

Hunter used the fake names to hire two moving companies, including Crown Relocations, as he moved his possessions from Waipukurau to Hastings in October 2012 and from Ashurst to Waipukurau in April 2012.

The companies were left with bills owing of $5434.70 and $2600, after they believed they were in contact with the ghost identities of solicitors.

Judge Down ordered Hunter to pay $2600 in reparation to Crown Relocations.

In January, Hunter was sentenced to 300 hours' community work, after he pleaded guilty to one charge of operating an aircraft without the required documentation.

A court summary of facts said he had previously appeared in court for offending under the Civil Aviation Act and the Crimes Act.

In November 1998, he was convicted for operating an aircraft without appropriate and current documents, fraudulently making documents, placing others in unnecessary danger and falsely representing himself as a pilot with an instructor's rating.

His lawyer, Philip Jensen, today said his client came from a "poor background", was not a "mental case" but a "complex character".

Judge Down said Hunter had many sentences of imprisonment in the past but was reluctant to send him back to jail because it may be "damaging or reinforcing of the opinions you hold of authority".

"However, it must be in the public interest given the extent of his fraudulent history," Judge Down said.

He said the 55-year-old was a "querulous complainer" who had been abused as a child and "not taken care of as [he] should have been".

Judge Down suspected punishment would not deter Hunter from future offending and his only real hope of reducing his criminal activities was to address his "deep seeded issues".

"I do not detect any sense of remorse ... but I do take into account your personal circumstance," he said.

Hunter was jailed five times in the 1990s and was first convicted in Wellington in 1974.

- By Sam Hurley of Hawke's Bay Today