Following the hearing in February 2015, the Reserved Judgment arrived on 17 April 2015, exactly four years after I was wrongfully arrested for Arson.
The Crown had not managed to find any evidence of a Print Command to fill the gap in the case identified by the Court of Appeal and therefore the remote ignition theory evidence of the investigators was ruled inadmissible. The Crown’s case relied totally on Remote Ignition as a way of linking me to the fire 400Km away.
The Crown did not appeal against the decision, the computer registry evidence would stand up in all circumstances showing I had no opportunity to cause the fire and another Judge may not have been so lenient with Jorgensen’s fabrication of a document attempting to get me convicted of arson.
On 1 May 2015, I was acquitted of the Arson and associated charges in an Oral Judgment by Judge McDonald.
My Barrister, Catherine Cull confirmed the acquittal on 5 May’15.
Normally, you would expect an insurer to quit at this point and come to a settlement of the insurance claims but once again IAG NZ didn’t see it that way.
I wrote politely, to IAG NZ’s lawyer, Chris Hlavac and he replied immediately.
As detailed on the Arrested page, the evidence that leads to my solid Alibi is purely the computer records in the PC Registry file. Crown law could see no argument and didn’t appeal but Hlavac refers to a Civil case that didn’t exist at the time. He was well aware that we did not have the funds to proceed in the civil court against IAG.
The actions IAG NZ then took were truly amazing, as with the DNA evidence they ignored the fact that I had been acquitted and that the evidence gave me a perfect ALIBI, having no opportunity to cause the fire.
They started a publicity campaign stating that the charges against me had been withdrawn by the Police, totally fabricated and easily prove to be untrue but who checks such things.
The Northern Advocate Newspaper in June 2016 carried two articles that showed IAG NZ were misrepresenting the acquittal.
As you can see from the acquittal documents above the charges were not withdrawn, I was acquitted.
The difference is important, an acquittal is the acceptance that there was NO evidence to link me to causing the fire and the case cannot be restarted whereas the charges being withdrawn means the Police still believe I was guilty but currently they do not have enough evidence to proceed.
IAG NZ had a motive here, in 2014, following the Pre trial I issued a High Court case against IAG based on the fabrication of evidence as had been shown at the Pre trial. I’m no lawyer and basically copied Andrew Hookers earlier format and researched similar cases on the internet. I understood that most UK precedents stood in the NZ Courts since the number of cases in NZ did not number sufficiently to build a useful reference.
I made a significant error, relating to Exemplary or Punitive Damages. Several UK cases in similar circumstances were reported where the Court had agreed Punitive damages against the insurance company of the same value as the claim itself. This, in effect, doubling the pay out to the victim of their illegal actions and making the risk to an insurance company of illegally avoiding claims too expensive. Our claim, with interest at that time was around $3.2M, which I detailed in the Statement of Claim, I requested that Punitive Damages of the same amount be added to the claim.
Unknown to me Punitive damages do get awarded in NZ but the figures awarded are very small, the maximum at that time had been $50,000. Hardly a sum that would scare IAG NZ, a years interest saved on a claim of $2.5M would be around $125,000 so the odds were heavily in favour of the insurance company.
With just a few days left for IAG NZ to file a defence to the claim, difficult when all the accusations were backed by photographs and statements by their own investigators, I sent a settlement offer to IAG NZ. It gave IAG NZ the opportunity they needed, they claimed it was a blackmail document and I was arrested once again by pet policeman DC Dawson.
Justice Wylie gave a decision on the case, if I had committed Arson then the Settlement offer was blackmail. The case was being handled in the High Court by Judge Paul Heath, who sat on the Court of Appeal. He agreed with Wylie and it’s converse argument, if I had NOT committed Arson it was NOT blackmail but an acceptable document asking the insurance company to pay the claims. He wanted to combine the cases but the Arson case was in the District Court and the Blackmail case in the High Court. Both wanted to keep their interesting case so both cases ran on separately but linked by the decisions of Wylie and Heath.
When Judge McDonald acquitted me in the District Court he explained he couldn’t do the same for the High Court case but that would be done by Judge Heath in the following days and this is reflected in Catherine Cull’s letter.
It never happened, I was puzzled to find that the blackmail case was to continue even after receiving the word of Judge McDonald with the agreement of the Crown Law Barrister when I was acquitted.
It is now apparent what had happened, IAG NZ applied to have the Blackmail case continued since the Arson charges had been withdrawn by the Police and that left the Blackmail as an on-going matter to be decided by the Court.
All of this happened whilst once again I was in jail, held since I was arrested for breaching the bail condition of not contacting IAG NZ which they claimed I had done by emailing Hlavac, a lawyer not IAG. IAG NZ opposed my bail application on every occasion and won every time! I had very limited time to discuss what was happening with Catherine Cull and she seemed distant in any case.
The trial was short, just a few days. Catherine recommended that I did not give evidence and everybody, the clerks and court staff thought it was certain I would be acquitted when the Jury retired. Even the Judge looked astounded by the Guilty verdict almost spat out by the Jury foreperson.
The Judge assured me that I would not be going back to prison before accepting statements from IAG asking for a serious prison sentence, she was almost philosophical about the verdict. I was dressed down, telling me I was arrogant not to let the lawyers handle it rather than getting involved. Obviously, she was not aware of the $100,000 estimate from Andrew Hooker to handle the case and even then with no great chance of success against IAG, we couldn’t have afforded $5,000 after the fire. I bit my tongue, wanting to say that if I had just allowed the lawyers to handle the case I would undoubtable be currently serving a long sentence for arson!
IAG NZ had apparently won, I was now a convicted felon, my words would not be taken seriously if I tried to act against IAG NZ in the future but it was all based on a simple lie, ‘the charges were withdrawn by the Police’ rather than the truth that I was acquitted. Had I been at home, able to study the papers I would have realised what had happened but cooped up in Auckland Mt Eden prison run by Serco gave me no opportunity to consider anything. IAG NZ had realised that keeping me out of the loop allowed them to manipulate everything!
In 2017, the bankruptcy discharged and we were advised to apply to the Court to apply to get the litigation rights to the insurance policies and legal cases returned to us, we even got legal aid and a brief meeting with lawyer before the hearing.
It was hopeless, IAG NZ marched several smartly dressed top Auckland lawyers into the Court all with massive bundles of evidence, our legally aided lawyer was a bit scruffy and alone with one tiny file of our pleadings.
Justice Moore’s verdict was inevitable but was stunning, it included the following paragraph.
We had not been sent the submissions by IAG NZ’s lawyers Cuff and Leman of DLA Pipers but clearly the facts that I had been acquitted of Arson and had a perfect alibi being 400Km distant with Remote Ignition proven never to have happened was not included anywhere in them at all.
I wrote complaining to IAG NZ, and got the following reply from Cuff and Leman who had taken over our case from Hlavac.
The letter is a summary of the results of IAG NZ’s illegal actions.
Para 2 continues IAG’s position as stared in the declination letters, i.e. that I started the fire by Remote Ignition but that was proven never to have happened and in the process of trying to prove it my perfect alibi had been established. I had no opportunity to cause the fire!
Para 4 is a circular argument, I was wrongfully arrested on the falsified evidence produced by IAG NZ’s investigators. IAG then delayed at every opportunity until I was acquitted 4 years later after We were made bankrupt due to IAG NZ not meeting the perfectly valid claims.
Para 8 refers to comments made to Justice Moore, that the property was owned by our trust, the Killara Trust but this had been disclosed when the Policy was taken out.
Para 9 shows that IAG NZ had no issues about presenting misleading evidence and documents to Justice Moore, had I been guilty of Arson I would agree with his comments but I was acquitted and had no opportunity to cause the fire!
IAG NZ’s method of dealing with a case such as ours is apparent, DELAY, IGNORE, LIE, FABRICATE, TWIST WORDS, LIE again when the previous LIE is exposed, DELAY, DENY, DEFEND.
Nothing matters to IAG NZ except the profit and our case has given them a massive profit! One of their accountants submitted an affidavit in support of one of the hearings, IAG NZ made a claim on their reinsurance in respect of our claim in the sum of $1.7M but they have paid our nothing at all!
The original claim would have been the $2.4M rebuild cost using their calculator, $100,000 contents, $43,000 cars with around $2,100. A total in 2011 of around $2.5M not paid out. At that time therefore they made a gain of $4.2M and have had that cash to use in the business as working capital for almost ten years saving them paying interest on bank finance.
Their actions are CRIMINAL and deserve to be dealt with by a criminal investigation, an independent inquiry or by a Judicial Review.
In many countries around the World ‘BAD FAITH’ is now a legal tort, I suspect that is being strongly resisted in New Zealand.
At the end of the day, the customers and shareholders of IAG control how they operate by their decision to buy policies or shares from the company.
Could you s urvive the actions they have taken against me?
It could happen to you tomorrow!