Judge says man tried to get back at his former partner

A Queenstown man was trying to get back at his ex-partner when he impersonated an immigration officer to tell her employer her visa was no longer valid, the Queenstown District Court has heard.

Dean Raymond Stuart (30)  appeared before Judge Mark Callaghan at  a judge-alone trial on one charge of impersonating an immigration officer last week.

Judge Callaghan found the charge proved.

Police alleged Stuart called the Queenstown tourism accommodation provider where his ex-partner worked on June 13, 2017. Claiming to be an immigration officer, he  said his ex-partner needed to contact Immigration New Zealand (INZ) because her visa was no longer valid.

The name of the  accommodation provider was suppressed.

The woman had been in New Zealand on a partnership visa with Stuart. The relationship  broke up and Stuart discovered she was in a relationship with another man.

Stuart acknowledged he made the call, but denied pretending to be an immigration officer.

The receptionist who  took the call said the man on the phone said he was "from Immigration", and  wanted to speak to someone in human resources.

She transferred the call to the  human resources manager.

The manager told the court the man on the phone said his name was Aaron Smith, and that he was calling from Immigration.

She  was convinced the man was an immigration officer. The man said he had been trying to contact the  employee but had been unsuccessful. He said she needed to contact INZ as there was a deportation issue.

The manager asked for a  number she could call him back on, which he gave. However, although the   phone  number  did go through to INZ,  the extension was not active.

After both the manager and employee made inquiries with INZ, it was confirmed the employee was allowed  to work until she left the country on June 28, 2017. She had  already  confirmed this with INZ on June 8, when she told them her relationship had ended.

Stuart had also contacted Immigration  on June 13.

In a text message to an immigration officer, Stuart informed her of the break-up and said he was a "broken man".

Giving evidence at last week’s hearing,   Stuart said he made the call because he was unsure if INZ knew about the issue. He wanted to remain anonymous because the "biggest fear" in a small town was "airing out your dirty laundry".

He "absolutely" denied saying he was an immigration officer. Cross-examining Stuart, police prosecutor Sergeant Ian Collin suggested Stuart was angry  his ex-partner had cheated on him, and wanted to cause her "a bit of grief".

Stuart said that was not the case. Delivering his decision on Wednesday,  Judge Callaghan said Stuart was trying to get back at his ex-partner when he made the call. He did not believe Stuart’s claim  he had not introduced himself as working for INZ.

The case was remanded until August 8. Defence lawyer Louise Denton said Stuart would be applying for a discharge without conviction.

- Daisy Hudson

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