Sportsman who stole from grandad pleads guilty to deceiving friend out of $60K

A prominent New Zealand sportsman who impersonated and stole more than $40,000 from his grandfather has also pleaded guilty to deceiving a friend out of $60,000.

Last year he pleaded guilty to charges of accessing a computer for a dishonest purpose, as well as driving with a suspended licence, and was due to be sentenced in the Masterton District Court today.

However this morning he pleaded guilty to an additional charge of obtaining by deception and was convicted.

According to the summary of facts he tricked his friend into giving him $60,000 to cover legal costs for an alleged "defamation" case he was taking out, supposedly against the New Zealand Herald.

Police claim he made assurances to victim that he would pay him back and would get compensation after he "wins" the alleged defamation suit.

The summary, which was read in court, noted that in May last year he created fictitious conversations with the "lawyer" between his personal phone and his work phone and would send screenshots to the friend to add to his "credibility".

The man allegedly gave his friend two bank accounts, claiming one was for the lawyer and one was a personal account and said that his friend would receive $65,000 back when he won.

Reparations of $60,000 are being sought for this offence.

The sportsman was due to be sentenced for the other charges today, but Judge Bruce Davidson adjourned the hearing until March.

The sportsman's other crimes left his grandfather in tens of thousands of dollars of debt, court documents show.

The court summary of facts released to the Herald by a judge revealed the sportsman lost money on online gambling sites - and stole money from his grandfather - to fuel his "secret gambling addiction".

The man had transferred a total of $41,400 from his grandfather's iPad to his own account between 30 March and 9 April 2021.

That amount consisted of nine separate transfers, the largest of which was $10,000.

According to the summary of facts, the sportsman had been living with his 77-year-old grandfather at a rural property.

On April 1, 2021 the grandfather went to check his bank account details on his iPad and noticed the Westpac Banking app had been deleted from the screen.

When the grandfather asked the sportsman if he knew anything about the app being deleted the sportsman said it must have been the younger grandchildren who had deleted it.

Over the next five to 10 days the grandfather allegedly asked his grandson to reinstall the banking app onto his iPad, but each time, he made excuses about why he couldn't do it.

Nine days later the grandfather phoned Westpac to check his account balance only to discover his credit card was $29,000 in debt.

Bank inquiries revealed that large sums of money had been transferred from the grandfather's credit card account to the grandfather's cheque account, and then had been immediately transferred to the sportsman's ASB account.

On April 6, the sportsman transferred $7500 back into his grandfather's account.

The sportsman also pretended to be his grandfather on three occasions, to convince the bank to increase the credit limit or ensure that transactions went through.

After the dishonesty was discovered, the grandfather approached the sportsman about the missing money but he never returned his calls or went back to his house. According to court documents, the sportsman confessed to his mother what he had done.

The sportsman still owes his grandfather $34,000 and reparation is being sought. It is unknown whether the bank will cover the grandfather's loss.

The sportsman's grandmother told the Herald she hadn't heard from her grandson since August last year and didn't want to comment.

On August 6, 2021, the sportsman said he was driving to work when he was stopped by police because his licence was suspended.

The sportsman told police he was too busy to get a limited licence and claimed "police are c***s targeting me, do you get bonuses or something". The penalty for driving while a licence is suspended or revoked is three months imprisonment, a $4500 fine, and six months disqualification from driving. He will be sentenced today.

The computer crime charge carries a maximum penalty of up to seven years' jail.

The sportsman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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