Josh Hawkless, is a builder and son of a Taumarunui ‘rich man’, Ronnie Hawkless, who wandered in to Club Wairua recently and laid claim to some scrap steel my neighbour gave me. I’m sure that the ‘smart-arse, crooked’ cop who threatened me with getting arrested for burglary or theft was in no way influenced by this association though and conducted himself with the integrity that the NZ Police self-promote ad nauseum [sarcasm] when he later charged me with “4553 – Obtain by Deception”, whatever that means. This matter though raises issues of which of three laws has precedence when there is conflict. Best to pass on this one if you don’t want to have to think or deal with facts.
In December 2019 I helped a local builder Josh Hawkless to demolish a neighbouring building on a property that I had been protecting from the local riff-raff. I had chased off street-kids, thieves and vandals and I had achieved a lot more peace and quiet with intrusions known to be problematic for the dudes and dudesses that graced the place dumping rubbish and vandalising whatever was left. Sure I ended up with a few bruises and blood flowing as a result of my efforts to protect things but the word eventually got out that easy pickings had now gone from this area.
Josh didn’t like my
jandals Samoan-style safety boots on his OSH-enabled worksite so he gave me a pair of steel-capped boots left over after one of his previous employees departure. He offered to pay me $20.00 per hour cash under the table, but I refused his offer to work for him and just came over daily to help. I helped him though by both providing him with security and in his demolition project and in return he allowed me to take a truckload of demolition gear away. I hate it seeing good stuff getting trashed when I know that it can be used. Over some weeks this ended up as a whole bunch of various unwanted items, doors, stairs, timber, windows, fittings and even an entire deck all saved from his bonfire – a lot of it repurposed around Club Wairua and even now still a lot left over.
Josh would always gift what he didn’t need or want to me specifically, either by direct instruction or by putting it aside, rather than on the heap to be burned. Any confusion was cleared up amicably and his mind changes were frequent but always respected. “You can have that!” became, “No I want that!” or visa versa and I guess you could say that goodwill existed. He was the ultimate determiner of who got what, when or how, as he had the contract to demolish. He put a bunch of scrap steel to one side and when I asked if I could take it, he said, “No!” that he had a friend who was building a barn and he needed the beams for that purpose. I always honoured this, not even walking over to it in the many times I went through the vacant property. I did not want to even leave footprints in the moss!
Over the next year or so I asked Josh for the left over scrap steel couple more times, but he repeated his answer, “No!” giving different stories about how he had sold it, how his mate still needed it. Whatever! Eventually at the beginning of March 2021 a new tenant took over the property and came over to introduce himself as the new neighbour. I learned that he did firewood, that he had a 5+5 year lease from Linz (the same as mine) and that he didn’t pay very much for it and that he wanted to be in good standing with his neighbours.
We chatted about a few things, I asked him if he could spare the large Oak tree from his firewood-man’s axe (he had told me that it was his intention to convert the old beauty into firewood!). We also discussed his access problems with the numeric-coded padlocks, and clearance of the left-over scrap steel. I told him the story about the steel, and advised him that Josh had installed the padlocks thus had the codes. Kevin didn’t know who Josh was so I put them in contact. In regards to the left-over steel, Kevin just wanted it cleared out and agreed to open the gate for me so that I could bring my forklift over to move it all away. I did that when he unlocked the gate for me.
Legally anything abandoned can be claimed after 3 months and if it is left on a property it becomes the new tenant’s to dispose of upon signing of a new lease. The landlord (or any new tenant) has the right to dispose of foodstuffs and perishables immediately, and anything else to be gotten rid of has to be disposed of within reason – you can’t just sell a brand new Merc for $1.00 to your mate for example. You can charge storage fees or sell it off and recover expenses and such-like.
My take is that legally Josh owned the steel up until the time that the new owner took over the lease who then had every legal right to sell it or gift it to whoever he wanted. Morally too, any left over scrap that has been picked over, then gifted by the new tenant to a neighbour who was happy to clear the section for the new tenant is fine.
But on the 16 July 2021 (that’s more than four months after the new neighbour had arrived BTW), Josh came to my neighbour’s property with another person intending to get “his steel”. He didn’t find it of course because the new tenant had given it to me, but eventually he rolled on up here and found it all. He laid claim to it and told me that he had sold it and that he was going to get a forklift down here that morning. Ummm, “No Josh! It’s not going to happen that way!” didn’t go down very well with a man used to getting his way. Did I say that he acts like a spoiled brat? Not yet? Well he did! From my own property he called the 111 emergency number on speakerphone in front of me, on my own property!
There’s more of course, I told him that I didn’t want to pick a fight with him. I told him to come back later when he had calmed down and he tried to make me into the trouble-maker. He did some more stuff that wasn’t the most mature thing a guy could do, but the bottom line was that this was always a civil matter. It is for the civil courts to determine who rightfully owns the scrap steel – not the Police and certainly not after an emergency callout!
So on Sunday 18 July 2021, I lodged a claim in the Disputes Tribunal, which I believe is the correct thing to do if one cannot resolve your differences in a civil matter. I believe that Christians in a dispute have a separate path which is to take it to a Christian elder first but Josh does not want this to happen.
On 16 July 2021, Josh Hawkless claimed title to some scrap steel, that he had previously abandoned and that had been given to me in April 2021 by my neighbour. I defended my legitimate ownership of the steel but Josh has said more than once since, “I just want my steel” and refuses to engage with me constructively. I seek adjudication on the correct legal owner of the scrap steel located on my property that Josh Hawkless claims ownership of.
and . . .
Both Josh and I claim legal ownership as a result of an in-person visit by Josh Hawkless to both my neighbour’s site and mine on 16 July 2021. Josh has involved the Police, calling 111 from my property on that date. I have defended my legal rights by claiming legitimate ownership of all items on my property and describing the situation as a “civil dispute” which is best addressed by a civil court. Josh has actively avoided contact with me since.
Despite knowing that the matter was before a civil court, a few days later the cops raided 2a Para St with a Search Warrant and took what they wanted.
The next morning I was charged with “4553 – Obtain by Deception”. Yesterday I pleaded “not guilty” and elected a trial by jury, as I have been told that this is a Category 3 offence. Category 3 offences mean that the value of the goods allegedly obtained by deception exceed $1,000.00 and have a potential penalty of seven years in jail.
No doubt I will receive documentation from Police Prosecutions supporting their charge in due course. I cannot wait for this all and pray that the truth will out – before a Judge and jury or through this venue if the Police suddenly get some sense and withdraw the charges!
Which is the Greater Law?
Apart from the effect that these events have on the people of Taumarunui, the reputation of the NZ Police and also me personally, there is a greater issue here at stake, and it is which law has the greater power? Which law will triumph? Will it be the natural law; the civil law; or the criminal law?
In a perfect world they should all equate – God’s law, (aka justice or the natural law or the moral law if you’re not into God things) should be the basis for civil and criminal law. Unfortunately it is a happy day when justice and the law coincide!
People who hear about this matter say to me, “Oh Dennis, you will never go to jail over this!” and “It’s not a criminal matter as far as I can see!”. People in positions of power though warn me to seek legal advice and engage lawyers. They say that the charges are very serious. Having taken on Tuila’epa, the corrupt Prime Minister of Samoa, and having been a Private Investigator for years, I know very much the cost of standing up to corrupt bullies and shaming them in front of the world. It is easy for friends to say, “Oh you’ll never go to jail!” or “They’re just trying to bully you, it will never go to trial!” I have said from the outset though that my experience says the opposite. They will charge me for something. There is corruption and I will surely be facing a trial where the potential is incarceration if I am found guilty.
So the civil matter will be heard first. Josh Hawkless claims that whatever he took with the Police assistance was legally his. I dispute this claim. I believe that the new tenant had every legal right to gift it to me thus it is mine. An adjudicator in the civil court can and will likely make that call.
The next matter will be whether I committed a crime or not. I say, “No!” A ‘crooked’ cop says, “Yes, I did!” so unless the Police change their mind a jury will determine that question.
The real tricky ones though are:
a) Whether the actions of the Taumarunui Police in determining that a crime had occurred (and therefore issued a Search Warrant and their hooking of a bunch of gear out of Club Wairua) before the civil court had determined contested ownership was morally right – IMHO it wasn’t, and everyone will have real difficulties if the court says that the gear is actually mine (and especially if Josh has sold all the evidence); and
b) Whether bias or corruption existed in the case of the Taumarunui Police handling of a civil matter, lodged by way of a 111 call – I posit that the answer is affirmative. There is a lot more of interest not mentioned online here yet, I can assure you;
When the Police’s star witness tells me that he doesn’t believe that a crime was committed, I think they’ve got a big problem. As I’ve shared previously, the concept of mens rea, a guilty mind is important in any criminal conviction. There is none here.
Obtaining by Deception
The charge of Obtaining by Deception is detailed in Section 240 of the Crimes Act:
240. Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception
(1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,—
(a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or
(b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or
(c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or
(d) causes loss to any other person.
In this section, deception means—
(a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and—
(i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or
(ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or
(b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or
(c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.
The statutes require that the Crown has to convince the judge (or in my case the jury) beyond reasonable doubt that in particular as charged, I:
- Obtained something;
- By deception; and
- That I was not entitled to it
In the first instance this is fully admitted.
In the second instance deception has never occurred at my hands for decades (and that’s plural, BTW) so these goons will have to twist reality around hugely to get me on this score.
In the third instance the concept called “claim of right” applies to the belief that one has a right to it. Even if the civil court says, “Mr Smith, you may have thought that you owned it but in fact you didn’t!” then if it can be shown that I genuinely believed that I had claim of right, then this is sufficient to give me “claim of right” thus is a defence. I did, and still do.
As I said, there is more, but that’s all for another day!