Mayor Brent in trouble again – found to have dealt dishonestly with Tasmanian farmer.
One-time favourite of former Premier Campbell Newman to become deputy Premier, Mayor John Brent of the Scenic Rim Shire and formerly of Boonah Shire, has been found by the Supreme Court of Tasmania to have ‘dishonestly dealt’ with a vegetable grower in that state.
John Brent owns a vegetable processing business ‘Bunny Bites’ that bought carrots from a Tasmanian farmer.
When payment on the contract was not made the Tasmanian farmer took Brent’s company to court.
In his defence, Mayor John Brent claimed that his signature on the contract had been forged.
Mr Justice Blow said in his judgement that “The plaintiff, in this case the Tasmanian farmer, bears the onus of proof that John Brent did sign the deed.
“There was no evidence that John Brent authorised the forging of his signature on the deed. The judge said.”It is possible that he did, but the plaintiff bears the onus of proof, and has not discharged it.”
The plaintiff’s claim against him must therefore fail.”
Instead Justice Blow ordered that the Mayor’s brother Peter Brent pay up the contract price plus interest..
Mayor Brent has made no comment on the judgement.
A vegetable grower in Tasmania has been awarded $1.7 million after winning a court battle in the Tasmanian Supreme Court in Hobart against former owners of a vegetable processing company in Queensland. Processor Bunny Bites went into liquidation in 2013, owing growers and creditors millions.
In the Supreme Court in Hobart, Justice CJ Blow described one of the former owners, John Brent, who is currently mayor of Scenic Rim in south-east Queensland, as “a dishonest witness”.
Last year, Tasmanian vegetable growers Glenn and Dinah Moore as C.A.R.S. took John and Peter Brent of Bunny Bites, or Bunjurgen, to the Supreme Court, over a letter in 2011 that guaranteed payment for $680,000 worth of vegetables they supplied.
But John Brent told the court his signature was forged so he was not liable to pay.
Under cross-examination, John Brent admitted he did not report the forgery to police when he found out about it, nor did he ask his family members in the company if they had signed his name to guarantee the debt.
Justice Blow said some of John Brent’s evidence “simply does not ring true”.
“John Brent was cross-examined robustly about what he did and did not do as a consequence of that demand,” the judgement said.
“As a result of that cross examination, I am satisfied that he was a dishonest witness.
“I am not prepared to place any reliance on anything he said as to any matter of controversy unless his evidence is corroborated.
“If it is true that his signature was forged without his knowledge, and that he first learned of the forgery after the plaintiff had demanded over $900,000 from him and his brother in reliance on the forged document, then one would expect him to have initiated enquiries as to who had forged his signature, to have notified Bunjurgen’s liquidator of the forgery and to have reported the matter to the police.”
However, John Brent gave evidence that showed he did not pursue the issue with his son Matthew or daughter Sally Brent, who worked in the business, nor did he report it to the police, wrote Justice Blow.
Justice Blow accepted that John Brent’s signature was forged, but that his brother Peter had co-signed and so was liable to pay the debt plus interest. [Pls note this is an incorrect reading of the judgement]
That debt amounts to $684,845 for goods sold and delivered, plus $793,992 in interest. That interest continues to compound at 2.5 per cent a month.
John Brent has made no comment on the judgement.
The judgement at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/tas/TASSC/2015/23.html. See publisher’s note above.