The game was up last night for Upper Hutt (Wellington) lawyer John Burrett, found guilty of plotting to kidnap Wellington businessman.
Burrett, 53, and his nephew, Matthew Norman Payne, 22, were both acquitted of conspiring to kidnap for ransom, but found guilty of conspiring to kidnap with intent to confine and of having a sawn-off shotgun. The jury spent 8-1/2 hours considering its verdicts after a seven-week trial in the High Court at Wellington.
Justice Hammond remanded Burrett and Payne in custody for sentencing on June 18.
Burrett’s wife Jennifer said last night that she had spoken to her husband, who thought the verdicts were perverse, and he was planning to appeal against the conviction.
Suppressed till the end of the trial was the fact that Burrett’s stepson, Simon Jonathon Phillpott, pleaded guilty to the conspiring to kidnap for ransom and the gun charge. He was sentenced in March to 2-1/2 years’ jail on the basis he played a lesser role. The Dominion Post understands Phillpott was freed while the other two were on trial. The jury was not told of Phillpott’s plea or sentence.
Justice Hammond said Burrett had hugely and unnecessarily protracted the trial, which was originally scheduled to last about a month. “The cost to the public must be truly horrendous.”