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Guardian Chambers

Leading sets of criminal defence lawyers in Auckland.

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Lester Cordwell (LLB) Notable Cases

N.B. For reasons of confidentiality client's names are only referred to by way of initial.

Murder / Manslaughter

  • R v O - O and two others accused of brutal murder of young man following a fight at a party. Case issues included close analysis of forensic and medical evidence; self-defence and an assessment of the role each accused played in the fatal beating. O acquitted of murder following careful cross-examination of crown witnesses and successful legal argument at the end of the Crown case.
  • R v V - V and brother charged with manslaughter of uncle following a fight during a family gathering. Case issues included assessment of medical evidence, cause of death, self defence and the part V played in the fatal assault. TV acquitted of manslaughter.
  • R v R - R charged with the murder of a young 21 year old man by dropping a rock through a moving cars windscreen from a motorway over bridge. Case issues included media applications, rights of young persons charged with serious offences and R’s intention. Argued successfully before a jury that R did not foresee death ensuing as a result of his actions and that manslaughter not murder was the appropriate verdict. Jury returns verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. R sentenced to 4 1/2 years imprisonment.
  • R v K - Approached by K’s family to review case and represent OK on appeal against a conviction for murder and 16 year prison term. OK charged with two others of savagely stabbing a young man to death. All three originally convicted of murder. Successfully reviewed case and successfully argued in the Court of Appeal that there was a serious miscarriage of justice because the jury were not properly instructed on the possibility of K being guilty of manslaughter and not murder. Appeal result: Appeal allowed, murder conviction set aside. K later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and sentenced to five years compared to previous life imprisonment with 16 years minimum non- parole.

Sex Cases

  • R v H - Successful defence of a young man charged with nine serious sexual charges including multiple rapes and kidnapping following night spent with young women. Defence was that all sexual activity was consensual. Result: Acquittal on all charges.
  • R v L - Successful defence of man accused of kidnapping and raping two young women in a South Auckland Park on Boxing Day. Both complainants gave evidence and carefully cross-examined. Defence was that all sexual activity was consensual. Result: Not guilty on all 17 charges.
  • R v T - Successful defence of 11 serious sexual offences against three separate complainants who were T’s work colleagues. Three separate defences were run including consent, reasonable belief in consent and complete fabrication by one of the complainants. Verdicts of not guilty on all 11 charges.
  • R v P - Successful defence of rape allegations by niece while staying with P during the holidays. Defence was that the sexual activity never happened. Verdicts of not guilty on all charges after a second trial (first trial resulted in a hung jury).
  • R v T - Successful appeal to the Court of Appeal against conviction on serious sexual charges. Originally sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment. Basis for appeal previous lawyer’s failure to cross-examine on several relevant issues.
  • R v C - Approached by C’s family to review case. Successful appeal to the Court of Appeal against conviction on nine counts of sexual offending of a historical nature against step-daughter when she was aged between six and 12 years of age. Grounds for appeal were possible jury interference issue and refusal of the trial Judge to grant previous counsel’s application to cross-examine on relevant matters. Result: appeal allowed.
  • R v S -Successful defence of a young man accused of raping a young woman after a party. Defence was that all sexual conduct was consenual, that the complainant had lied about important matters that were raised at trial. Result: Not guilty of all charges. 
  • R v W - Successful defence of a businessman accused of eight charges of sexually assaulting his ex-partner. The defence was that the sexual assaults did not happen and that the complainant was herself being dishonest for reasons of her own. Result: Following a three week trial outside of Auckland, the client was found not guilty of all sexual assault charges thus escaping a lengthy term of imprisonment.

Firearms

  • Customs Department v R and J - Successful defence of two men accused of illegally exporting firearms from New Zealand. Charges eventually withdrawn against R and successful acquittal of other accused following successful legal application.

Applications to discharge without conviction

  • R v G - Business man who assaulted former business partner caught on video surveillance - successful application for discharge without conviction.
  • R v SD - Successful application to have America’s Cup yachty (US) discharged without conviction after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a taxi driver.
  • R v P - Successful application to have P discharged without conviction after he pleaded guilty to $40,000 of fraud against a major bank.
  • R v K - Businessman charged with downloading and possession of objectionable material. Following preparation of considerable documentation and lengthy submissions the application for a discharge without conviction was successful.
  • R v A - Professional person charged with assaulting two people after a drunken day out. Result: Successful application to discharge without conviction which allowed the defendant to continue practising in his chosed profession.  

Drugs Cases

  • R v W (Operation Robot) - Client charged with organised manufacturing of class A drug methamphetamine and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. After a six week trial W found not guilty of manufacturing, guilty only of conspiracy.
  • R v C (Operation Geta-a-fix) - C charged with three others with conspiracy to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. Defence was that agreement to act had not been finalised. Following two trials and two hung juries case against C dismissed as a result of defence application to stay proceedings.
  • R v S and C - Both S and C charged with sophisticated cannabis cultivation operation following police search of their property in West Auckland. Successful application to exclude all evidence (including the whole cannabis crop) discovered on the basis that both accused’s Bill of Rights had been breached due to an unreasonable search conducted by the Police. Legal argument accepted by Judge that there were no reasonable grounds to search the house at the outset. Result: All charges dismissed for want of evidence once court couldn’t rely on inadmissible evidence.
  • R v Z - Successful defence of man charged with the importation of class A drug from Middle East into New Zealand. Judge accepted argument that no evidence existed that Z knew drugs were in the package he had been given before entering New Zealand.
  • R v H (Operation Pope) - Represented principal offender in major drug operation with 17 other accused charged with major drug offences. Successful challenge made to admissibility of client’s statement to the Police on the basis of Police unfairness, a breach of the clients Bill of Rights and improper offers being made by interviewing officer. Result: major charges withdrawn without original statement to rely upon.
  • R v B (Operation Tomahawk) - B and seven others charged with manufacture of methamphetamine and selling cannabis. Acquittal secured by way of successful application at the end of the Crown case due to insufficient evidence against B.
  • R v O - Client charged with possession for supply of methamphetamine and cultivation of cannabis. The Police search of the defendant's house was challenged as being unlawful. Result: All evidence seized by the Police was ruled inadmissible and subsequently all charges were withdrawn by the Crown.
  • R v P - Client charged with possession of a large amount of methamphetamine for supply after a large packet of drugs was found in his car. Result: following a successful challenge of the Police search of the defendant's vehicle, the evidence found was ruled inadmissible and an acquittal was secured due to lack of evidence.   

Serious Violence

  • R v C - Secured acquittal of client charged with grievous bodily harm after he had struck the complainant’s head several times with a tomahawk and complainant hospitalised. Defence of self-defence was accepted by the jury and not guilty verdicts delivered.
  • R v T - Successful defence of woman charged with GBH and wounding with intent to injure after she attacked both her husband and girlfriend found in bed together.
  • R v N - Successful appeal to the Court of Appeal against conviction of a major armed robbery where M received eight years imprisonment. The Court of Appeal direction was inadequate in relation to the dangers of convicting on the word of a jail house informant who gave evidence against N.
  • R v Y - Successful appeal to the Court of Appeal against a conviction for high profile armed robbery of a security van at Lynn Mall Auckland where Y received eight years after original trial. The Crown case was based upon Y playing major role in robbery. However, the Court of Appeal accepted the trial Judge’s summing up was not balanced and the identification evidence at trial was inadequate. Following successful appeal and after several court hearings Y pleaded guilty to minor role of supplying car but without knowledge that firearms were going to be used in holdup. Result: two and a half years imprisonment compared to eight years previously imposed.

Fraud/Dishonesty

  • R v K - Successful defence after four day trial of client charged with concealing considerable property and funds whilst bankrupt. Defence based on interpretation of certain documentation. Result not guilty on all charges.
  • R v M - Represented client charged with one of the largest ACC frauds. M was a physiotherapist who was accused of fraudulently claiming half a million dollars of fees from ACC. Originally charged with close to 90 charges. following deposition hearing and cross examination of Crown witnesses Prosecution reduced number of charges and M received a community based sentence not a long term of imprisonment.
  • R v F - Represented client charged with perpetrating fraud against her employer, the Salvation Army. The defence claimed that she was not fraudulent but had been untidy in her bookkeeping rather than being dishonest. Found not guilty of the majority of charges and received a community based sentence rather than a term of imprisonment.
  • R v M - Successful defence of businessman who was accused of being the mastermind of a major burglary ring where large amounts of computer equipment were stolen from retail and wholesale outlets/warehouses. Found guilty of receiving only and escaped term of imprisonment.
  • R v C - Successful defence of publican/bar manager who was accused of in excess of 20 charges of fraud by failing to account to a well known registered charity. The defence focused on showing the defendant's actions were inadvertent rather than intentionally dishonest. Result: not guilty on all charges.