New Zealand Law Society - Community detention for perverting the course of justice

Community detention for perverting the course of justice

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Davin Heaps, a director of 4 Hippos Farm Ltd, has been sentenced to four months' community detention in the Invercargill District Court for perverting the course of justice, WorkSafe says.

An adverse publicity order has also been imposed on 4 Hippos Farm Ltd, the first under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Mr Heaps had pleaded guilty to one charge of wilfully attempting to obstruct, prevent, pervert or defeat the course of justice by directing a worker to lie to WorkSafe NZ. The charge was pursuant to section 117(e) of the Crimes Act 1961.

WorkSafe says 4 Hippos Farm Ltd was also convicted on a Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 charge for failing to ensure the wood splitter he was using did not pose a risk of serious injury to the worker. It says the worker received significant crush injuries and lacerations to his hand while using the wood splitter.

"Despite the court considering an end fine of $273,288 appropriate, no fine was able to be imposed due to Mr Heaps’ financial circumstances. Heaps was also ordered to pay reparation of $25,000 and $16,110 for consequential loss," WorkSafe says.

"On WorkSafe’s application, Judge Robin Bates also imposed an adverse publicity order on 4 Hippos Farm Ltd under section 153 of HSWA. This order requires 4 Hippos Farm to publish in newspapers nominated by WorkSafe the offence, consequences and penalty imposed."

WorkSafe’s Chief Operating Officer, Phil Parkes says Mr Heaps’ actions in lying and pressuring the injured worker to lie were appalling.

“This worker received significant injuries and Heaps actively tried to escape any responsibility for the incident by lying. It was only the brave actions of the worker that brought the truth out.

“It is entirely appropriate that Heaps’ behaviour has resulted in two firsts for WorkSafe – the first conviction for perverting the course of justice taken by WorkSafe under the Crimes Act 1961 and the first adverse publicity order under HSWA."

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