27 April 2022
Connexionz Limited says a District Court Judge’s finding that the company was “totally blameless” when its former chief executive committed serious indecencies is “a huge relief.”
Judge Raoul Neave made the statement in the Christchurch District Court when sentencing Wayne Smith on 17 February 2022 to a total of 17 years in prison for child sex and other related offences.
Until now Smith has had name suppression, but this was lifted today (27 April 2022) by the High Court where he failed in his appeal against Judge Neave’s ruling his name should be published.
Publication of both Smith’s name and the company’s name as his former employer was supported by Connexionz at the sentencing by Judge Neave.
Smith had been CEO for two and half years when he was dismissed by the Connexionz board in July 2021 on the grounds of committing a gross breach of trust.
“Initially, we asked for name suppression when he first appeared on charges,” said Mr Kan.
“But our view changed once the details of the horrific offending emerged.
Our hearts went out to the young girl and her family.
We also felt it was important his identity be revealed after Police told us further victims were likely and publishing his details might encourage their families to come forward.”
Police had told Connexionz early in their investigation they were satisfied the company was an innocent party, said Mr Kan.
At the sentencing hearing on 17 February , Connexionz lawyer Richard Smedley told Judge Neave when the Company first heard of the defendant’s arrest and the charges it agreed to support his wife and protect their innocent family through an application for a permanent suppression order.
“The Company had no inkling of Smith’s offending and it was shocked at its nature and extent.
“The offending was so well hidden from all of those involved with the Company including its employees, directors and shareholders, that when the offending came to light, some staff immediately burst into tears and others booked appointments with onsite trauma counsellors,” said Mr Smedley.
“The Company just happened to be the defendant’s employer at the time he was unmasked.” Mr Smedley said.
In earlier submissions, the Crown Prosecutor had said there was no evidence that any offending had taken place at his workplace.
“None of the alleged offending took place during worktime or was in any way connected with the company,” said the Crown Prosecutor.
“This is not offending that could lead to any suggestion of immoral, improper or illegal conduct by Connexionz Limited,” said the Crown Prosecutor.
The Crown Prosecutor also said the defendant’s collection of objectionable publications had been compiled and curated over potentially two decades, far longer than the period of time he was employed by Connexionz Limited.
“There is no allegation that for the period of time he was employed by Connexionz Limited he used devices owned by the company,” the Crown Prosecutor’s statement said.
Connexionz has since made the counselling service available to staff as a permanent resource to support their wellbeing.
In view of the distressing nature of the charges, this is the only statement Connexionz is making about the matter