Prominent businessman guilty of indecent assault has sentencing adjourned over health fears

A prominent businessman’s sentencing has been delayed because of health concerns after he was convicted of indecently assaulting three men and trying to bribe one to drop their claims.

The rich-lister was found guilty by a High Court jury last month of indecently assaulting three men in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.

The man, who continues to maintain name suppression, was also accused of twice trying to pervert the course of justice by offering a bribe for the 2016 victim to drop their claims.

He was found guilty of both allegations, one of which included hiring a PR firm for an elaborate attempt to dissolve the case which has become known as the “Gold Coast plot” in 2017.

The wealthy man was to be sentenced next week, but Justice Geoffrey Venning, who has presided over the case, declared this afternoon the hearing would now be held on May 27.

The adjournment was sought by the businessman’s lawyer, David Jones QC, after the rich-lister “recently exhibited a number of symptoms of concern to his doctor and specialists”, the judge’s minute read.

The businessman was due to have a series of tests next month, it explained.

Crown prosecutor Henry Benson-Pope objected to the delay and provided a report detailing the level of care provided to prisoners. The businessman is currently on bail awaiting his sentence.

The report further confirmed if the rich-lister was imprisoned any scheduled medical appointments could be accommodated with a custodial escort.

Benson-Pope also argued the sentencing should proceed because at least two of the victims intended to attend the hearing.

But after hearing from counsel, Justice Venning confirmed the sentencing would be adjourned.

“I accept in general terms that the prison authorities are able to cope with the specific needs of prisoners who may have high and complex health needs but at present further information is required before [the businessman’s] health needs can be accurately confirmed.”

He added: “It is in the interests of justice overall that he remain in the community while the tests are completed and his treatment plan confirmed.”

The judge said the Crown could then obtain further information to confirm – if the businessman is imprisoned – whether Corrections would be able to meet his specific treatment needs.

“While I regret the inconvenience to the victims, these issues have been before them and the court for some time. In the circumstances, a relatively brief further adjournment is in the interests of justice overall,” he said.

Throughout the case, the rich-lister has strenuously denied the charges and said he was the victim of an “amazing blackmailing circuit”.

Jones told jurors the complainants had fabricated stories for ulterior motives, including revenge over failed business ventures and wanting to be part of the MeToo movement. He has said his client will appeal his convictions.

The businessman’s manager, who has name suppression, was also on trial and jointly charged over attempting to dissuade the complainant during the Gold Coast scheme.

He was found guilty and was still due to be sentenced next Wednesday, Justice Venning confirmed.

New Zealand entertainer Mika X, also known as Mika Haka, was also convicted of helping the businessman attempt to derail the court case.

He was sentenced last month to 11 months’ home detention after admitting two charges of attempting to dissuade and bribe the 2016 indecent assault victim from giving evidence.

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