‘I won’t be alive’: James Wallace refused parole, continues to deny offending

Disgraced arts patron James Wallace has been denied parole and continues to repudiate the convictions against his name.

The 85-year-old appeared before the Parole Board this afternoon for his first hearing after being sentenced to a prison term of two years and four months in May 2021.

Asked at the start of the hearing how he was feeling, Wallace replied: “Anxious.”

Wallace continued to deny all of his offending and explained it would be “a lie if I said I was now guilty just to get home”.


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The philanthropist, who was considered to be one of the country’s biggest supporters of New Zealand film and art, was convicted of indecently assaulting three men at his Auckland mansion and twice attempting to pervert the course of justice by trying to dissuade a victim from giving evidence against him.

Wallace’s lawyer, David Jones KC, told the Parole Board there has been “public humiliation” of Wallace since his name suppression was lifted with a Supreme Court judgment on June 28. The suppression order had been opposed by the Herald and Stuff since Wallace was first charged in 2017.

Many of New Zealand’s leading institutions have now distanced themselves from Wallace, who was one of the country’s biggest backers of the arts, which led to him being knighted for his services in 2011.

Last month, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins also confirmed King Charles III had cancelled Wallace’s knighthood.


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Jones, advocating for his client’s release from prison, told the hearing Wallace “has people who trust him”.

The Herald on Sunday earlier revealed some of New Zealand’s biggest names in film, art and classical music wrote 89 letters of support for Wallace’s sentencing, many of whom lauded his financial support for the sector.

“He is a person who has tremendous abilities to assist others in philanthropy and he wants to continue to do that,” Jones said.

Jones argued any suggestion Wallace remains a risk to the community is “completely assuaged” by a safety plan. The plan, the hearing heard, includes Wallace having several staff keeping a watchful eye over him.

Inside Wallace's Epsom mansion Rannoch.
Inside Wallace’s Epsom mansion Rannoch.

Wallace, who had an estimated net worth of about $170 million, was found guilty of indecently assaulting three men victims at his home in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.

The 2016 victim was working for Wallace and living at his Epsom mansion, named Rannoch, at the time.

Wallace said: “There’s no question of any kind of rip-roaring parties … I can’t even imagine how I would be brought into any position that was dangerous to anyone.

“I need people around me to look after me, unfortunately. So, I am not left alone.”

Wallace said he was no longer a risk of further sexual offending.

The Board, however, was not convinced and said when denying Wallace parole that more safety and support planning needed to occur, which may include talking to a psychologist.


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The Parole Board said a written decision would follow today’s hearing and Wallace would be seen again by the panel in two months’ time.

“I won’t be alive,” Wallace snapped after learning he will spend more time behind bars.

Mustafa Erinc Yikar and James Wallace at a musical in 2016. Photo / File
Mustafa Erinc Yikar and James Wallace at a musical in 2016. Photo / File

One of Wallace’s victims, who was assaulted in the early 2000s, had written a letter for the hearing. Wallace was critical of his victim and scathingly said he was living in “Never Never Land” as the patron pointedly pushed back against his convictions.

Reacting to the Parole Board’s decision, author and one of Wallace’s victims Dom Shaheen told the Herald he was relieved.

Shaheen, who along with the two other victims earlier waived their automatic name suppression, said it was “a sad fact [Wallace] will not take responsibility”.

“In my submission, my concern was that there was no indication that he had even acknowledged his crimes, let alone shown any remorse. My suggestion to the Parole Board was that perhaps he needed more time inside to rehabilitate.”


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Wallace also continued to claim he knew “nothing whatsoever” about the attempts to dissuade the 2016 victim, who was the first to approach police.

“Unfortunately, I had overly enthusiastic friends,” he said.

Rannoch’s house manager Mustafa Erinc Yikar was convicted alongside Wallace for attempting to bribe the victim in what became known as the ‘Gold Coast plot’.

The efforts, which employed the services of PR consultant Jevan Goulter, occurred at the five-star Palazzo Versace hotel in Australia in late May 2017.

Entertainer Mika X, also known as Mika Haka, also pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice over the scheme and another ploy and was sentenced to 11 months’ home detention.

Wallace said if released from custody he had a “great project” ahead of him with the multi-million restoration of Christchurch’s McLean’s Mansion, which was damaged in the 2011 earthquakes.


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Wallace has funded the efforts to turn the property into an arts and community centre.

“It is something I can do in the time I have left.”

Jones added Wallace wants to live out the rest of his days continuing to fund the arts but in a non-public facing role.

“He is not in any way, shape, or form going to breach the conditions of parole, should he be granted parole.”

The hearing was also told Wallace has been compliant and interacts well with other prisoners.

James Wallace is one of New Zealand's largest arts patrons. Photo / File
James Wallace is one of New Zealand’s largest arts patrons. Photo / File

Despite being sentenced to prison, Wallace was released on bail a short time later to Rannoch pending his appeals, which were dismissed earlier this year.


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Wallace was then ordered to report to the Department of Corrections at Mount Eden Prison on February 21.

The Government began the process of stripping Wallace’s knighthood when his name suppression lapsed.

Hipkins said last month: “I’ve had formal notification from King Charles that he has approved the cancellation of James Wallace’s knighthood. I’ve written to James Wallace to advise him accordingly.

“The Government formally requested that the King cancel Mr Wallace’s appointment as a knight companion of the New Zealand order of merit back in June. James Wallace was found guilty and imprisoned for serious crimes and it is totally inappropriate for him to hold any honour.

“He can no longer use the title of Sir or KNZM, and has been asked to return his warrant of appointment and his honours insignia.”

Sam Hurley is a news director and senior reporter. He joined the Herald in 2017 and has previously worked for 1News and Hawke’s Bay Today. He has been investigating Sir James Wallace since 2018.


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