Archive | Pakiri case

Kroon & Weller not guilty in Spencer kidnap trial

Published 20 July 2007

Auckland property developer Richard Kroon and a former motorbike club associate, Craig Weller, were found not guilty late last night of kidnapping Mr Kroon’s former partner in coastal property developments, Kim Spencer.

 

The jury retired at 1pm yesterday after a trial that began on 25 June and returned a verdict at 10.50pm.

 

Earlier item, published 19 July 2007

Jury about to retire in Kroon kidnap case

 

Did property developer Richard Kroon humiliate business partner Kim Spencer to “put the frighteners” on him in pursuit of a bigger share of profits or did Mr Spencer create an elaborate hoax to frame a partner he couldn’t afford to pay?

 

Crown prosecutor Ross Burns told the jury yesterday, in closing submissions in the Auckland District Court trial of Mr Kroon & Craig Weller, that Mr Kroon wanted to “bring Mr Spencer into line” over their joint-venture property deals.

 

For Mr Kroon’s part, counsel Paul Davison QC said his client already had lawyers working through variations to the partnership documents and the alleged kidnapping at Pakiri on 16 November 2004 made no sense. Mr Davison outlined how Mr Spencer’s story was “riddled with inconsistencies” and he characterised the police investigation as woeful, some of it inept and at times demonstrating downright neglect.

 

Mr Weller is alleged to have posed as a potential buyer to lure Mr Spencer to the property overlooking the southern end of Pakiri Beach, for which Mr Spencer & Mr Kroon had formed a joint venture to complete the subdivision and sell. Mr Weller is then alleged to have been one of a group of men – the rest in balaclavas – who forced Mr Spencer to take his pants off and sit on a plastic sheet, where he was beaten & kicked before being forced to sign documents produced by Mr Kroon.

 

Mr Weller has given no evidence in the 4-week trial but has given notice of an alibi. Mr Burns said Mr Weller had been identified and cast doubt on the alibi, saying “we haven’t heard a skerrick of evidence about it”. Mr Weller’s lawyers will make submissions this morning before the judge sums up and the jury retires.

 

Mr Burns, in his closing, said Mr Kroon had discovered Mr Spencer was “making a pile” out of another property deal, at Mangawhai, which Mr Kroon had previously decided he didn’t want to be involved in and had decided on the “frighteners” course for Mr Spencer.

 

“In the vernacular, they (Mr Kroon, Mr Weller & the masked men) were trying to scare the shit out of him. Mr Kroon thought he had put the frighteners on him so he wouldn’t dare to go to the police. Same as Mark Lyon (Mr Kroon’s former business partner in the Chancery development in Auckland) – I’ll burn your house down. (Mr Lyon’s house was burnt down, no arsonist identified).

 

“It was Mr Kroon taking the law into his own hands. He thought it was the best & easiest way to get what he wanted, put the frighteners on him so badly he wouldn’t do it (step out of line) again.”

 

Mr Burns told the jurors they were at the trial representing the community: “And the community does not condone people taking the law into their own hands, despite what a good idea it might seem to be.

 

“You will find when you go out you are talking not about the various components of what happened, but did it happen or not happen. Mr Spencer, you might consider a ratbag in many ways, his memory bad in many instances. But in this case his evidence is supported by facts.”

 

In defence, Mr Davison focused on Mr Spencer’s credibility and less on the series of phone calls which the Crown used to show the alleged kidnap perpetrators’ whereabouts at crucial times. However, Mr Davison did use a couple of those call traces to show Mr Kroon couldn’t have been at Mr Spencer’s Orewa home at the time alleged.

 

Mr Davison said Mr Spencer owed money, was motivated by money, “he was prepared to fabricate a story and implicate Mr Kroon to extricate himself from this joint venture at Pakiri”.

 

Mr Davison said Mr Kroon had no need of a dummy buyer to lure Mr Spencer to a property which both business partners were visiting regularly, and if Mr Kroon had arranged a beating for Mr Spencer it made no sense for him shortly after to want to go into the Spencer home to get Mrs Spencer to also sign documents, something Mr Spencer said he refused to allow.

 

“He has just stood over the husband, surrounded by some balaclava-clad men, and intimidated Mr Spencer into signing some documents, and he is going to stand around in the Spencer house and wait for Mrs Spencer to sign documents? ‘What are these, dear? – Oh, just documents I’ve had my arm pushed up my back to sign.’”

 

Mr Davison said the police investigation began badly. “Detective Carr makes a scene examination then resigns from the police and no record has been found of his scene examination. We’ve never heard from him. That’s an amazingly strange piece of evidence, which shows the attitude & level of competence being applied to this matter.

 

“Detective Wendy Wood had no notes to indicate a scuffle had taken place in the barn.” There was no hair, no DNA, no tyre marks on record or photographed. “Of course, if you know the police are going to find nothing, you have a plastic sheet and they took it away. No forensic evidence of any kind found.”

 

Mr Davison said the day after the alleged kidnapping and Mr Spencer’s visit to a medical centre, “Mr Spencer couldn’t identify which clothes he was wearing and they were all in the wash. Suppose they (the police) had got those clothes and found nothing? Then they got a statement from Ben Guinness (at the Leigh Sawmill café) and lost it. What type of investigation is this?”

 

As for Mr Kroon’s failure to provide originals of certain documents, Mr Davison said the police should have gone to the joint venture companies’ liquidators, but hadn’t.

 

The prosecution wanted the jury to believe Mr Kroon had spirited away his computer because that was where the incriminating documents had been created, but Mr Davison said on the night of the police search Mr Kroon had no opportunity to hide anything.

 

Earlier stories:

18 July 2007: Ex-All Black captain provides light relief at end of kidnap trial focused on phone records & a missing computer

29 June 2007: Davison uses old case to target Spencer credibility in Pakiri kidnap trial

26 June 2007: Jury told of Spencer’s beating at Pakiri at start of kidnap trial

 

Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email bobdey@propbd.co.nz.

 

Attribution: Trial, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Ex-All Black captain provides light relief at end of kidnap trial focused on phone records & a missing computer

Published 18 July 2007

Kidnap accused Richard Kroon wheeled in former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick as a character witness – on screen from London – yesterday, but it was really a lightweight entertainment sound bite in a trial where the substantial evidence is from phone records and what might be on a missing computer.

 

Mr Fitzpatrick, recorded last Friday and screened to the jury yesterday, said he’d known Mr Kroon for 16-17 years, since their wives met at law school. They’d formed a strong relationship and Mr Fitzpatrick had also bought property from Mr Kroon.

 

Mr Fitzpatrick told defence counsel Paul Davison QC: “I’d classify Richard, for me & Bronnie (Mrs Fitzpatrick), as one of our closest friends. I’m a pretty good judge of character, Mr Davidson, and I don’t take friends on too lightly.” He described Mr Kroon as “one of those people who would jump on a plane and come to help”.

 

Asked about Mr Kroon’s reputation “within the community,” Mr Fitzpatrick said: “The general reputation is that these allegations are totally out of character.”

 

Judge David Wilson reminded the jury that “having previous good character is not itself a defence”.

 

But throughout the trial Mr Kroon’s murkier past has lingered. His co-defendant, Craig Weller – accused of being one of a group of men who beat Mr Kroon’s business partner, Kim Spencer, to extract a signature on contract documents – is a member of the Mothers Motorcycle Club of Palmerston North. And another former club member, business associate Alan Smart, became implicated in the telephone evidence through calls between him, Mr Weller & Mr Kroon.

 

Mr Davison asked Mr Fitzpatrick if he was aware of Mr Kroon’s connection with the motorbike club, which Mr Fitzpatrick dismissed as something from the past: “It’s a bit of a joke really. Richard has a strong love of bikes. But in terms of the Mothers (that) was in the past, really, and he’s moved on.”

 

Crown prosecutor Ross Burns established that Mr Fitzpatrick had never met any of Mr Kroon’s Palmerston North motorbike friends, then asked if Mr Fitzpatrick knew that one of the original partners in the Chancery development in Auckland, Mark Lyon, was suing over that development. He didn’t know.

 

Mr Davison: “Knowing that, would that affect your evidence?”

 

Mr Fitzpatrick: “No, it wouldn’t.”

 

The Crown launched the trial in the Auckland District Court on 25 June by alleging property developer Mr Kroon organised the kidnapping of his business partner, Mr Spencer, at an isolated Pakiri property on 16 November 2004 in pursuit of Mr Spencer’s share of property earnings.

 

Mr Kroon & Mr Weller face 2 charges – together with others (still not identified), causing Mr Spencer to be confined without his consent; and, without right, compelling Mr Spencer to execute documents capable of conferring a pecuniary advantage. Mr Weller hasn’t given evidence, so his fate rests very much on the jury’s conclusions about Mr Kroon.

 

Final defence witnesses were to be heard this morning, followed by closing addresses from counsel.

 

In cross-examination this week, prosecutor Mr Burns focused on the role played by Mr Kroon’s office computer, and on phone records which established the movements of various people at variance with Mr Kroon’s evidence.

 

Mr Kroon said there’d been a glitch in his computer, a computer service company was to collect it for repairing but, if that hadn’t by 5pm, he was taking it home, where his wife’s computer was also having problems. That was the night before police executed a search warrant.

 

Originals of a number of crucial documents – allegedly signed by Mr Spencer that dya at Pakiri – are missing, and the Crown alleges they were produced on Mr Kroon’s computer. That, too, is missing, seemingly spirited away at the time of the police search of Mr Kroon’s Remuera home.

 

Mr Burns put it to Mr Kroon that the police must have lost these documents, and the computer, after taking them away during their search. While Mr Kroon didn’t accuse the police of losing them, he could offer no alternative reason for their disappearance.

 

The phone records provide the time & duration of calls, and cellphone records show the user’s movements.

 

Mr Kroon’s explanation for calls to the fire protection company Mr Weller worked for was that the Chancery sprinkler system was rusting out and the repair work was being priced by various companies. But Mr Kroon told Mr Burns he didn’t know anybody else at the company.

 

Mr Burns went through a number of calls on 4 November 2004, 12 days before the alleged kidnapping, seeking explanations for calls between Mr Kroon’s phone & Mr Weller’s mobile. Mr Kroon said he had no idea about these calls and, on why they were made, said: “I can categorically tell you I made no calls to Mr Weller.”

 

The trace showed one call from Mr Kroon’s phone to Mr Weller’s, and a return call 5 minutes later. Mr Burns: “So it does look like you called Craig Weller and he called back.”

 

Mr Kroon: “If it was I would have remembered, and I can tell you it wasn’t.”

 

On the night of the alleged kidnapping, Mr Smart’s phone called Mr Weller from the NZI building on Queen St, a short distance Mr Kroon’s Chancery office. Mr Weller was in Ponsonby, then wound up near Chancery. One of Mr Spencer’s phones, which were allegedly taken by Mr Kroon after the Pakiri incident, also made calls in the city while Mr Spencer was receiving medical treatment at Red Beach.

 

As for $3000 which the prosecution alleges Mr Kroon withdrew from his bank account to pay Mr Weller, Mr Kroon said that money was for his wife to pay for a function for about 30 people at their home.

 

Earlier stories:

29 June 2007: Davison uses old case to target Spencer credibility in Pakiri kidnap trial

26 June 2007: Jury told of Spencer’s beating at Pakiri at start of kidnap trial

 

Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email bobdey@propbd.co.nz.

 

Attribution: Trial, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Davison uses old case to target Spencer credibility in Pakiri kidnap trial

Published 29 June 2007

An extraordinary piece of theatre rolled out in the Auckland District Court yesterday afternoon as Paul Davison QC used evidence & the decision in a previous High Court case to demonstrate how incredible & unreliable chief prosecution witness Kim Spencer should be treated in the kidnap case in which he was the alleged victim.

 

Mr Spencer has consistently denied telling lies & concocting an elaborate but untrue event in his 3 days on the witness stand in the case against former property development partner Richard Kroon and Palmerston North motorbike club member Craig Weller.

 

Mr Weller is the odd man out in this trio, as the person who allegedly lured Mr Spencer to a beating at his Pakiri property up the east coast from Auckland but otherwise seems to be an out-of-towner.

 

Mr Spencer & Mr Kroon, on the other hand, have 5 years of property development relations gone sour to work out of their systems.

 

And the way Mr Davison, acting for Mr Kroon, presented events today was to show Mr Spencer as the creator of fictional catastrophe – not once but twice.

 

Mr Spencer began the afternoon by agreeing with Mr Davison that his evidence on the timing of the alleged kidnapping – restraint & a beating to force him to sign documents – must have been wrong, as he’d given written evidence in an earlier hearing which put his arrival at the Pakiri property about 80 minutes earlier than he’d been claiming this week.

 

Mr Spencer claimed to have been rung by a man called Peter – he’s told the court Mr Weller was that man – wanting to visit the subdivision property with his wife, who’d fallen in love with it. According to his evidence this week, Mr Spencer arrived at Pakiri from his Orewa home about 5pm on Tuesday 16 November 2004. In the earlier evidence, he’d said he drove up between 3-3.40pm.

 

The Crown alleges 4 balaclava-clad men, one of them Mr Weller, punched & kicked Mr Spencer and took his shorts & underpants off him, and that Mr Kroon then forced him to sign documents whose contents he couldn’t see.

 

But Mr Davison put to Mr Spencer that in fact, that day, he’d arranged to see Mr Kroon at the property which their joint-venture companies owned, they’d taken a farm bike down to lot 10 to look at possible access and they were to have met LJ Hooker real estate agent Craig Matheson there. However, Mr Spencer hadn’t made the arrangements for Mr Matheson to turn up.

 

Mr Spencer was hazy about weather details that afternoon; Mr Davison said there’d been intermittent rain. “I don’t know – wasn’t wet when we were outside the house,” Mr Spencer said. Mr Davison didn’t pursue who the “we” referred to.

 

But in putting to Mr Spencer a course of events relating entirely to development issues, relating to a 28 October agreement and to work Mr Spencer hadn’t yet done, Mr Davison became more relentless.

 

After Mr Spencer denied having seen the agreement before – although Mr Davison demonstrated the previous day that Mrs Spencer must have printed it off her computer – and denied meeting Mr Kroon at Pakiri to go over subdivision matters, Mr Davison challenged him: “I suggest to you that you have constructed all of these things (the kidnapping details) and it’s nothing but a pack of lies.”

 

Mr Spencer: “No sir.”

 

Mr Davison: “And I suggest you’re no stranger to misleading people, misleading courts.”

 

Mr Spencer: “Not deliberately, no sir.”

 

Mr Davison: “You’ve previously concocted stories, trying to convince courts of your false stories.”

 

Mr Spencer: “No sir.”

 

When Mr Spencer didn’t recall giving evidence in the Hamilton High Court in 1999, in a case before Justice Hammond relating to his bankruptcy, Mr Davison asked Mr Spencer how many times he’d given evidence in the High Court: “Just the once. Was it about some livestock, sir?”

 

Mr Davison: “Are you saying you don’t remember, Mr Spencer?”

 

Mr Spencer: “I don’t remember, sir, no.”

 

Mr Davison: “Let’s see if we can refresh your memory. You were bankrupted 1997-98, was it?”

 

Mr Spencer: “Yes sir.”

 

Mr Davison: “And one of the issues that arose in your bankruptcy was whether some money you had given Susan Hamilton (Mr Spencer’s wife’s maiden name) was legitimately held or should be recovered by the Official Assignee handling your bankruptcy.”

 

Mr Spencer: “Yes sir.”

 

Mr Davison: “And in particular $207,000 you had given to Miss Hamilton.”

 

“Mr Spencer: “Yes sir.”

 

Mr Davison: “…. And what did you tell the judge?”

 

Mr Spencer: “I can’t remember.”

 

Mr Davison: “You told the judge you had given the $207,000 to Susan and she had paid it into her bank account to keep it away from anyone else.”

 

Mr Spencer: “I can’t remember….. I can’t remember a lot about it.”

 

Mr Davison: “And you told his Honour the money had been taken by you in a suitcase to Southland, to Gore, remember it now?”

 

Mr Spencer: “Yes sir.”

 

Mr Davison: “You were buying a piece of land from a Mr Church in Gore….. And you had given this cash to Mr Church in the street in Gore as a further sum in relation to the deposit for the farm.”

 

Mr Spencer: “Yes sir.”

 

Mr Davison: “And you told the court you had been given a receipt by Mr Church.”

 

Mr Spencer: “I can’t remember a receipt.”

 

Mr Davison said Mr Church gave evidence that he didn’t have a receipt book and Mr Spencer hadn’t given him any money in the street – in fact, any money at all.

 

Mr Spencer: “No, I don’t remember that.”

 

Mr Davison: “And the outcome of the judge’s decision was, your story about what you had done with this money was rejected and Mr Church’s accepted and you were treated as unreliable and unworthy of belief.”

 

Mr Spencer: “I agree I went to court for it.”

 

Mr Davison: “I suggest that was an instance of you falsifying an elaborate story to mislead a court and there was just nothing of substance in your story.”

 

Mr Spencer: “No sir.”

 

When Anna Pollett opened the prosecution case on Monday, she noted: “Issues of credibility & reliability will arise in this trial. The likely counter to this issue of kidnapping is, did it happen at all?”

 

She told the jury Mr Weller denied any part in the alleged kidnapping. Mr Kroon & Mr Weller face 2 charges – together with others (still not identified), causing Mr Spencer to be confined without his consent; and, without right, compelling Mr Spencer to execute documents capable of conferring a pecuniary advantage, both on or about 16 November 2004.

 

The first week of the trial ends today with a half-day Friday session. It’s scheduled to run for 4 weeks.

 

Earlier story:

26 June 2007: Jury told of Spencer’s beating at Pakiri at start of kidnap trial

 

Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email bobdey@propbd.co.nz.

 

Attribution: Trial, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Jury told of Spencer’s beating at Pakiri at start of kidnap trial

Published 26 June 2007

The Crown launched a 4-week trial in the Auckland District Court yesterday alleging property developer Richard Kroon organised the kidnapping of his business partner, Kim Spencer, at an isolated Pakiri property at the end of 2004 in pursuit of Mr Spencer’s share of property earnings.

 

At the end of the first day, counsel for Mr Kroon, Paul Davison QC, countered by focusing the jury’s attention on Mr Spencer’s failure to account properly for gst before the property was placed in the joint venture.

 

The judge & jury are being taken on a site tour today to 3 places integral to the case – the Pakiri land – most of it subsequently bought from the receivers by the Auckland Regional Council to be turned into a regional park – Mr Spencer’s home at the northern end of Orewa and the NZ Post shop in Orewa from where Mr Kroon’s co-accused, Craig Weller of Palmerston North, is alleged to have made crucial phone calls after buying a $10 phone card.

 

Mr Weller has denied any part in the alleged kidnapping. Anna Pollett, opening the Crown’s case before Judge David Wilson & the jury, said police & his Wellington hairdresser had identified Mr Weller from security video footage, but Mr Weller said he wasn’t there and had produced 2 alibi notices.

 

Said Ms Pollett: “Issues of credibility & reliability will arise in this trial. The likely counter to this issue of kidnapping is, did it happen at all?”

 

Ms Pollett outlined Mr Spencer’s allegations that he was lured to the property, which was subdivided & on the market, by a man called Peter – whom he identified in court as Mr Weller – phoning him, telling him his wife had fallen in love with the property and wanted to see it, and meeting on site.

 

Mr Spencer said Peter arrived alone, saying his wife was coming the back way around the coast from Waipu, but she didn’t turn up.

 

Instead, after the 2 men had gone to the Spencer Pakiri house’s implement & boat shed, 4 other men clad in balaclavas had entered the shed, punched & kicked him, taken his shorts & underpants off him and forced him to sit on a plastic sheet.

 

Mr Spencer’s evidence was that Mr Kroon had then entered the shed and demanded Mr Spencer sign documents, which Mr Kroon covered so Mr Spencer was unable to see what he was signing.

 

Ms Pollett said Mr Kroon was a former member of the Mothers Motorcycle Club and Mr Weller was a current member. More recently, Mr Kroon was involved in developing the Chancery project in the Auckland cbd, a venture begun with Mark Lyon, who subsequently became notorious for his escapades, for being savagely beaten up over drug debts and for having his house in Epsom burned down.

 

Mr Spencer said in evidence that Mr Kroon had threatened him with similar beatings, made threats against his family and mentioned his house could suffer the same fate as Mr Lyon’s.

 

After the Pakiri episode, Mr Spencer said he drove his Range Rover back to Orewa with Mr Kroon beside him. They’d stopped at the Hatfields Beach boat ramp, where Mr Kroon got him to write some figures down, and a note that he was to re-apply for consent to put a road down to lot 10 at the Pakiri subdivision.

 

“Richard told me I was going to do as I was told. I think every Monday, Wednesday & Friday at a quarter to 11 I would update him on progress.”

 

A few weeks later, variations to agreements were sent to his lawyer which he didn’t recall having signed before and figured had been signed that day at Pakiri. He said one of them “gives Richard access to my profits in any other developments I do or joint ventures, including other companies.”

 

From one of those non-Kroon ventures, Tomarata Estates Ltd, Mr Spencer said Mr Kroon stood to gain $2.5 million.

 

In opening cross-examination, Mr Davison established Mr Spencer had entered the world of property development after being bankrupted as a dairy farmer. Cross-examination will continue on Wednesday.

 

Mr Kroon & Mr Weller face 2 charges – together with others (still not identified), causing Mr Spencer to be confined without his consent; and, without right, compelling Mr Spencer to execute documents capable of conferring a pecuniary advantage, both on or about 16 November 2004.

 

Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email bobdey@propbd.co.nz.

 

Attribution: Trial, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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