30 Jun 2015

Agent fined for sending human waste in mail

11:42 am on 30 June 2015

A real estate agent has been discharged without conviction for sending faeces in the mail to the lawyer for his former workplace.

Grant Tucker

Grant Tucker Photo: SUPPLIED

Grant Tucker, a director of the internet-based realtors Netrealty, has been ordered to pay $750 to his victim for emotional harm.

At the Auckland District Court, Judge Claire Ryan said what he did was offensive and wrong but a conviction would outweigh the action.

The court was told Mr Tucker was sent the jar of faecal matter with his name on it in February last year from an unknown person.

He was involved in bitter disputes with his former employer at the time, and sent the jar on to the lawyer for his old workplace and asked them to return it.

The jar broke in transit, and the lawyer it was sent to became ill, feared for his safety and had to take time off work.

Mr Tucker must pay another $750 to charity, to Te Rangimarie Trust.

Such offending carries a maximum fine of $5,000.

Dispute former employer

The court was told Mr Tucker has worked full time as a real estate agent for the last 20 years.

In January 2011 he and his then partner had an Auckland property for sale.

A party was interested in buying it just as the sole agency listing was about to expire, but a salesperson from another agency became involved.

That person signed a buyer, but Mr Tucker carried on and sold the property regardless.

The court was told the rival company threatened to take action against Mr Tucker's employers and the matter was settled by his company releasing 45 percent of its commission to the rival.

Mr Tucker, after facing a reduced commission, resigned from his agency, lodged a complaint against it, and was awarded $5000.

Judge Ryan said this caused a great deal of tension between him and his former employer with "bad blood" arising and "things said that shouldn't have been said".

There would later be a trespass notice served on Mr Tucker, stopping him from going to his former workplace.

At the same time, Mr Tucker's relationship was breaking down, and on 19 February 2014 his sister discovered a package containing faeces in his letterbox.

It was in a glass jar with a plastic lid with his name written on it.

Judge Ryan said Mr Tucker was annoyed and angry about what he thought were immature actions, but the police did nothing despite him photographing the jar and reporting it to them.

The judge said Mr Tucker "decided rightly or wrongly" that someone from his former workplace had sent the jar, and he decided to forward it to their solicitor.

He wrapped it up in a large amount of bubble wrap but was "surprised" to learn the glass broke on its way to the lawyer's office.

He had included a letter on his own letterhead referring to "an unwanted gift".

Package arrives at lawyer's

Judge Ryan said Mr Tucker's sending of the jar was done impulsively and in the heat of the moment, but was not only a very stupid thing to do but also an offence.

She said she accepted he did not intend for the jar to break and seep material but said it was foreseeable and hardly surprising.

Judge Ryan said the package was not only offensive, but dangerous because of its broken glass.

She said the lawyer who then got the parcel was "quite understandably shocked".

His victim impact statement detailed how he drove the broken jar to the Auckland Central Police Station, and became violently ill there and vomited over a balcony.

The lawyer said the glass from the jar of noxious and harmful bacteria could have cut him or his staff, and said Mr Tucker tried to turn his office into a sewer.

The lawyer also said he became physically ill, had many trips to a doctor and locked his doors because he was genuinely fearful about what Mr Tucker would do next.

Judge Ryan said the lawyer clearly had a great deal of distress.

Discharge without conviction

Judge Ryan, in her sentencing, said she took Mr Tucker's age and the fact that he has not been convicted before into account.

Various health issues were also considered.

She told Mr Tucker that what he did was wrong and understandably caused psychological and physical discomfort.

The judge said his offending was "moderately serious" but had been reduced by him attending five anger management sessions, with a sixth due tomorrow.

"While what you did was completely irresponsible, it turned out to be dangerous beyond what you understand and was offensive and wrong, I have decided to take into account the context of your background and circumstances of the case," she said.

Judge Ryan told Mr Tucker he would have to deal with shame and embarrassment from publicity of the case, and that he faced a real risk of unemployment.

She believed there was unlikely to be any further offending.

Grant Tucker still faces disciplinary action as a real estate agent.