Charges dropped for man accused alongside runaway lawyer of pressuring witnesses to stop talking with police

A man jointly accused with an Auckland lawyer of attempting to pervert the course of justice by pressuring two witnesses to stop co-operating with police has seen his charges dropped.

The barrister, meanwhile, has fled the country and vowed to never return to New Zealand.

The lawyer, who has name and location suppression, was to stand trial last April after pleading not guilty to two charges of assault with a weapon.

The charges stemmed from an incident in the reception area of his office on January 20, 2017.

It is understood the weapon allegedly used was a chair.

However, an arrest warrant was issued for the lawyer after he failed to appear in court.

It later became apparent he had left the country and it is understood he remains overseas.

The lawyer has said he will never return to New Zealand because multiple threats were made against his life over a matter unrelated to the alleged assaults.

A warrant for the lawyer's arrest remains active, meaning he would be arrested at the border if he did decide to return to New Zealand.

Further allegations were later levelled against the lawyer last May after he was charged with two counts of wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Court documents viewed by the Herald show the lawyer is accused of pressuring two witnesses in a manner designed to dissuade them from co-operating with police or seeking independent counsel.

A second man was also jointly charged with two counts of wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice between September 2016 and June 2017.

A trial for the co-accused was due to proceed last week in the Auckland District Court, however, one charge was withdrawn and the other dismissed, court staff confirmed.

The lawyer has told the court he also left New Zealand after the police refused to provide adequate protection over his claimed death threats.

At a pre-trial hearing, Judge Allison Sinclair was told both the prosecution and the lawyer's defence team agreed the trial could have proceeded in the lawyer's absence.

However, Judge Sinclair said the lawyer was required to be present in court to answer the issue of his fitness for trial.

She said her only option was to issue an arrest warrant.

The lawyer had also been suspended from practice for misconduct by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.