5 May 2020

Auckland contractor jailed for forging documents

5:36 pm on 5 May 2020

An Auckland roofing contractor has been jailed for five and a half years for fraud.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Sam Spence pleaded guilty to 12 charges filed by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment last year.

These included phoenix activity - when a new company continues the business of a liquidated company to avoid paying debt - and a rare charge of breaching a director's duty to act in good faith.

Spence was sentenced for the fraudulent offending by Judge David Sharp in the Auckland District Court this afternoon.

The 32-year-old created a series of businesses - collectively known as Compass Group - to escape financial trouble.

When one of them began to struggle, he would simply incorporate it into a new company and continue operations.

The offending spanned from 2011 to 2016 and left a trail of more than $700,000 worth of debt.

His clients included the Auckland District Health Board and the University of Auckland.

This afternoon Crown prosecutor Dennis Dow said Spence's offending was serious and driven by pure greed.

He told the court Spence had lied throughout the entire case, including telling a cultural report writer he was Māori to get a sentence discount.

This afternoon's hearing was repeatedly interrupted by the defendant, who at one point said he wanted to file an application to change pleas.

Judge Sharp continued the sentencing hearing, saying there was a calculated and criminal element to Spence's offending.

He jailed him for five years and six months.

As the sentence was being passed, Spence dropped out of view of the prison's AVL camera; clutching his chest and saying he was having an asthma attack.

He will be sentenced for forging documents and attempting to pervert the course of justice at a later date.