Conman ‘more comfortable in prison’

A conman facing sentencing on five fraud charges, entered last minute guilty pleas to seven further charges that his counsel described as “depressingly similar”.

Defence lawyer Nick Rout said the further charges by Michael Vernon Lang, 42, used the same MO as the earlier ones in a case that was “inexorably sad”.

“Sadly, this man’s more comfortable in prison than he is in the community,” said Mr Rout.

Lang was suffering from post-tramatic stress disorder from an incident when he was nearby when someone was shot in the face while sitting next to him.

He had a drug problem which made treatment difficult, and said he had attempted suicide shortly before his arrest.

Lang, who had been held in custody, was now clear of drugs and was engaging with psychiatric forensic services in prison. After stopping drugs, he was able to take anti-depressants again. He had written letters of apology to his victims.

Lang had been arrested for making a series of calls to sports clubs, hotels, and other organisations asking for money to be loaned to him, after telling bogus stories. He never repaid the loans.

When he first appeared in May, police said they believed he could have committed further dishonesty offences and asked for people with more information to call. Since then seven more charges have been laid.

Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan said the victims could be described as gullible but they were also charitable. Lang had a terrible record about dishonesty offending.

Lang was now starting counselling in prison. He was in line to receive periodic ACC payments.

“He comes across as being genuine today and I do have a sense of feeling sympathetic to his plight in life,” said the judge, imposing a nine-month jail term, with six months of release conditions to follow when he must complete treatment and counselling.

Reparation totalling nearly $4000 was ordered.


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