‘Difficulty lying straight in bed’

File image. © Andrew Bardwell
File image. © Andrew Bardwell

A judge has rejected a plea by Paul William Abbott, calling him “an out-and-out conman” and jailing him for nine months.

“You, I suspect, would have difficulty lying straight in bed,” Judge Allan Roberts told 33-year-old Abbott at his Christchurch District Court sentencing on two charges of obtaining money from women by deception.

Abbott’s defence counsel David Stringer made the plea for him to be kept out of prison, so that he could keep his job, pay reparation to the victims, and maintain his relationship with another woman who is expecting his child next year.

He has been in that relationship for about six months, while facing charges relating to two women he met and conned earlier this year, after meeting them through an internet dating site.

Judge Roberts said he had now been told of Abbott being in relationships with three women over about six months.

“I can’t put any stock in any relationship this man forms. He’s an out-and-out conman,” said the judge.

A woman spoke of her and her daughter being “destroyed” by the offending by Abbott, who formed a three-week relationship with her. The relationship cost her $940 plus other expenses at a time when she was unemployed. She had to borrow money and the offending had “destroyed me and my daughter, emotionally, mentally, and financially”. Her daughter was now in counselling because of the way Abbott treated her.

“There is so much pain and hurt and anger, sadness and stress associated with his actions,” the woman told the court.

Mr Stringer said Abbott was working and paying existing reparations at $50 a week. He had now been drug-free for 11 weeks. He had taken steps to deal with the drug problem that was clearly behind the offending.

He was in a relationship and due to become a father next year. He had told his lawyer that he “doesn’t wish to mess that up” by letting the child down.

Abbott has a history of deceiving people he contacts online and has served a two year seven month jail term imposed for that type of offending in 2012.

The 33-year-old pleaded guilty in June to charges of obtaining money by deception from two women he met on an internet dating site. He had told one that he needed money to pay for medication for a brain tumour, and told the other he needed funds for truck repairs and to contribute to the family of his best friend who had died of blood poisoning.

The money was spent on his drugs habit.

Judge Roberts said Abbott had formed relationships with vulnerable and “gullible” victims. He suspected his deceit was ingrained and noted he had 44 previous convictions including 18 for dishonesty, and several for breaches of earlier sentences.

He already owed $6623 in fines, reparations, and fees.

He noted that when Abbott was approached by probation about an address being unsuitable for home detention, he had told them: “If I get sent to prison, I’ll come out a monster and it will be your fault.”

Judge Roberts said that pointed to a “warped attitude” and said there would be people who believed he was already a monster.

He jailed Abbott for nine months, with post-release conditions that he not possess alcohol or drugs, and undergo assessment and treatment for alcohol and drug abuse as required. He was also ordered to pay the two women victims back $1520, but the judge said he had little hope it would be paid.

“Your offending was devastating for these women,” said the judge. “Your lies were never-ending.”

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