‘We need something believable, babe’: Prisoner ropes in partner to fake father’s death and get brief taste of freedom

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Adam Martin was an inmate at Spring Hill prison when he and his partner came up with their plan, before going on to help another prisoner get a taste of freedom. Photo / File

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A prisoner roped in his partner to forge multiple documents involving his father’s fake death to get a taste of freedom, before going on to help another prisoner – who did a runner.

Adam Paul Martin and his partner Louise Witteveen exchanged multiple phone calls and even faked tears in the lead-up to the ultimate granting of his compassionate bail from Spring Hill Prison in February this year.

Their ruse was so convincing another prisoner, Teina Rongonui, also got in on the act and successfully faked death certificates for his mother to get a compassionate release.

However, he failed to return but was arrested soon after.

The 35-year-old today appeared via audio-visual link before Judge Glen Marshall in the Hamilton District Court for sentencing on three charges of using forged documents.

Court documents reveal the extent of their planning which began around the end of January this year.

Martin called Witteveen, of Bucklands Beach in Auckland, to say “we are sending the lawyer thing tonight and say it’s urgent”.

The next day, he again called her and she told him that she had texted his lawyer to say that his father, Paul Martin, had died of a heart attack in the early hours of the morning.

During that phone call, Martin was heard trying to memorise the date and time of his father’s death before telling her to ring his lawyer, that it was an emergency and urgent.

They also discussed when the “funeral” would be and what she would say to his lawyer, emphasising to her that there “was no room for error”.

To fulfill the fake compassionate bail application, they were told they’d get “Nikki” to accompany her to a JP to get an affidavit signed and that the lawyer would need to speak to a family member about the tangi, which Martin said “make that be Nikki” who they would later decide to be an “aunty”.

Witteveen said she was pretending to cry on the phone when she was speaking to Martin’s lawyer. Martin confirmed he did the same.

They also came up with another name for his aunty, with Witteveen suggesting “Rose”.

“Rosie?” Martin replied, “Rosie is alright,” Witteveen said.

They then discussed what “Nikki” would say to the lawyer and Martin replied, “she’s just going to say he’s, that her name is Rose Martin and that she needs to say that Paul Martin died”.

However, tensions peaked and the pair argued before Martin said to her, “we need something believable babe”.

Witteveen went on to use her work email address to send her forged tangi and death notice of “Paul Martin” to another email address she had created.

It was granted a couple of days later in the Hamilton District Court.

The following month, Martin again called Witteveen from prison asking that she create death certificates and other supporting documents for two other prisoners.

Teina Rongonui spoke to his father and said he was applying for compassionate bail and told him he had to confirm everything to his lawyer, including that the funeral takes place at Pukaki Marae, Auckland.

Witteveen went through the same process and Rongonui’s bail was again granted and he was due to return at 6pm on March 5.

He never turned up but was later arrested.

In April, Martin and Witteveen had yet another discussion about compassionate bail, this time by using the excuse of an “unveiling”.

They also discussed being paid $400 for helping Rongonui, but argued over who got how much.

“You get $100 and I get $300,” Witteveen eventually told him.

The application was advanced and granted on April 7 but it was later refused as the venue where the tangi was being held said it had been closed for the last two years.

Their litany of lies was then unravelled, as the Department of Internal Affairs confirmed the death certificates were fake.

The trio was arrested and first appeared in court in June.

Martin’s lawyer, Mark Jepson, told Judge Marshall that his client had earlier declined a sentence indication but noted a favourable pre-sentence report which indicated he would benefit from the 16-week Tai Aroha residential violence-prevention programme with Waikato-Tainui kawa and mātauranga Māori.

Judge Marshall agreed and said if he jailed Martin he would soon likely be out on time served. Instead, he wanted to focus on rehabilitation.

“A number of people can’t handle this programme … it’s not an easy programme, in fact, it’s very challenging but those who successfully complete it find it life-changing.

“It has turned around many hardened criminals,” he said.

But before handing it down he asked Martin if he was wasting his time and should instead deliver another jail sentence.

“I’m committed to doing this programme and turning my life around and doing something with my life,” Martin told the judge.

With that, he was sentenced to four months’ home detention to be served at Tai Aroha, before issuing a final warning.

“If I find that Mr Martin isn’t compliant … I will bring him back before me and re-sentence him [to jail],” Judge Marshall said, adding the sentence would be judicially monitored.

* Witteveen has pleaded guilty to her charges and will be sentenced at a later date. Rongonui was yesterday jailed for two years and six months on a forgery charge, as well as unrelated matters.

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