Accused 'not well enough to travel' for court date

A judge is "sceptical" about a Dunedin man’s excuse of being too sick to appear in an Alexandra court.

Nicholas Birch (29) was to appear in the Alexandra District Court yesterday  on a charge of making comments to a judge last year that would amount to perjury if made on oath in a judicial proceeding.

He did not show up and no plea was entered.

Counsel Louise Denton said she sought to have his appearance excused as she filed a memorandum with a medical certificate attached that showed he ‘‘was not well enough to travel’’ to Alexandra for court.

Judge Michael Crosbie said he could "afford to be sceptical about anything said on Mr Birch’s behalf".

"It hasn’t come through you, it’s come from someone else. It says that it’s from a doctor’s practice, but it’s not an affidavit.

"Given the nature of the charge and Mr Birch’s history, I’m going to take a cautious view with respect to that."

Judge Crosbie presided over the court hearing in which the alleged offence occurred.

Birch is charged with allegedly falsely telling Judge Crosbie in the court on March 31 last year he had never met Cromwell man Fletcher Christian Dennis before, and employment would be offered to Dennis on release from jail.

At the time, Dennis was being sentenced on six charges of burglary, one of illegally possessing a pistol and three of intentional damage. During the alleged incident, Birch told Judge Crosbie he represented the company Equestrian Services and Supplies and its owner was willing to offer a job to Dennis and pay the $25,000 reparation and $5000 in fines owed by him. Police later investigated the offer when questions were raised about its legitimacy. The offence carries a maximum penalty of three years’ jail.

Judge Crosbie said Birch could make a plea in the Dunedin District Court today,  where he is expected to appear for other matters, or a not-guilty plea would be entered.He issued a warrant for Birch’s arrest, which will be cancelled if he appears today.

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