7 Jul 2015

Businessman's bid for freedom overturned

12:46 pm on 7 July 2015

A Northland businessman and farmer, who was jailed for drug dealing and money laundering, has lost his legal bid for freedom.

In a Judgement released today the Supreme Court has dismissed Max Beckham's appeal against his sentence and thrown out his application to appeal against his conviction.

In October 2008 Beckham was arrested and charged with a number of serious drug offences, and remanded in custody.

While there he used a prison phone to make calls to several people, including his trial lawyer.

The phone was monitored by the Corrections Department, who recorded all of Beckham's calls, including those to his lawyer.

During Beckham's period on remand the police began a second investigation, based on information he was planning a prison escape and making threats against a police officer.

As a part of that investigation, police collected and listened to the recorded prison

calls but any identified as being to his lawyer were not listened to.

In the Court of Appeal Beckham argued the proceedings should have been stayed, because his rights had been breached when phone calls he made to his lawyer from jail while on remand had been monitored.

The Supreme Court heard an appeal relating to whether he should have received a reduction in sentence for that breach of his rights.

However, it has ruled today that the calls relevant to his trial strategy were not privileged and were not made in circumstances of confidentially.

The Supreme Court said even if those calls had been privileged, it would not be enough to create a presumption of an abuse of process.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed Mr Beckham's application for leave to appeal against his conviction.