Sir James Wallace case: Epsom house manager who tried to bribe victim named
The house manager at Sir James Wallace's art-filled Epsom mansion, who attempted to bribe a witness during an elaborate plot to aid the disgraced rich-lister, can now be named.
Mustafa Erinc Yikar had a last-gasp application for name suppression denied by the Court of Appeal, which today released its decision and reasons for dismissing his bid.
The court said the 31-year-old's application was "an abuse of process" and did not meet the high threshold for continued secrecy.
"Mr Yikar's application had all the hallmarks of a desperate attempt to again frustrate the right of the public to know of his and Sir James' convictions," the court said.
Yikar, an employee of Wallace who lived at Rannoch, was often seen alongside the now-imprisoned philanthropist at high-profile arts and film events.
He is a musician and began as a custodian at the Rannoch mansion in 2016 before becoming the house manager.
"He became very close to Mr Wallace, he was his right-hand man so to speak," Crown prosecutor Simon Foote KC said during the pair's trial.
He was charged alongside Wallace and entertainer Mika X with attempting to dissuade the first of Wallace's three victims to come forward to police from giving evidence with the bribe of a work contract, endorsed by Wallace. All three were convicted.
The efforts, which employed the services of PR consultant Jevan Goulter, became known as "the Gold Coast plot" because the scheme occurred at the five-star Palazzo Versace hotel in Australia in late May 2017.
At Yikar's sentencing in 2021, where he was given 12 months' home detention, Foote said it was an "elaborate, outrageous and cynical plan" to prevent Wallace from facing justice.
He said Yikar was a "key participant in the plot" and met with Goulter before the scheme and inquired about costs.
Payments - in all totalling $56,000 - were made to Goulter, either directly from accounts linked to Wallace or via an entity associated with Yikar.
The plot failed and the victim told police about the approach.
After returning to Auckland, Yikar met with Goulter and his business associate Allison Edmonds at Family Bar on Karangahape Road.
Edmonds recorded the unfiltered and explosive conversation as the group discussed the ongoing conspiracy.
At Yikar's sentencing, Justice Geoffrey Venning said if there was any doubt about Yikar's involvement as the middleman it was confirmed at the meeting.
Yikar, who confirmed during the recording he was acting on behalf of Wallace, said if the victim had a "comprehensive hold on reality" they would accept a reasonable offer.
When talking about Wallace, Yikar said: "The only thing that pisses him off and makes him get cold feet is when he feels like it's a slippery slope and it won't get a resolution."
Yikar said Wallace was "happy to bleed if it gets resolved".
"But he's like thinking, it's never getting resolved, I'm just going to keep bleeding and we're going to end up in court with everyone knowing."
Yikar, who has Turkish heritage, also mentioned a seemingly joking conversation he had with Wallace about sending the victim to Turkey to have him killed.
"... you know, we going to put you in Istanbul, traffic accident, Gypsies there are cheap man, they do [it] for two hundred US, you know like, we jokingly talked about it, [the businessman] laughed and was like, 'this is not funny', so, I don't know," he said.
Both Goulter and Edmonds were granted immunity from prosecution by the Solicitor-General in exchange for their evidence.
Yikar had been granted interim name suppression in the District and High Courts on the basis that identifying him would identify Wallace.
In his bid for ongoing suppression, the court judgement explained that Yikar said his mother, who has been working in Turkey since November 2022, was concerned that publishing her son's name would "potentially have an adverse effect on her because of the shame that she would suffer through persons in Turkey learning about Mr Yikar's conviction".
Wallace, who is one of New Zealand's most prominent arts patrons and had an estimated net worth of about $170 million, is serving a two year and four month prison sentence after being found guilty of assaulting three men in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016, and twice attempting to pervert the course of justice.
His appeals have been dismissed and the government has begun the process of stripping him of his knighthood.
Mika pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to dissuade the victim and was sentenced to 11 months' home detention.
* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.