Community work for splattering quake recovery Minister

March 15, 2016 | By More

Red Zone-cityProminent figures need protection from the courts from disgruntled protesters, said a judge as he imposed community work on the man who tipped gunge over Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Christchurch District Court Judge Gary MacAskill said prominent people should not become targets “for political purposes”, but he also accepted that Greymouth man John Andrew Howland was a grieving parent who had lost a teenage son in the Christchurch quake.

Howland, 41, had pleaded guilty to the February 22 assault charge last month and the case had been remanded for a restorative justice conference or sentencing.

Defence counsel Ruth Buddicom told Judge Gary MacAskill that the Minister had declined to take part in a restorative justice meeting and had also not prepared a victim impact statement.

She initially asked for the case to be remanded to Greymouth for an application to be prepared for a discharge without conviction.

She said Howland was “impecunious” and had borrowed money to get to Christchurch for today’s court appearance.

He would not be able to afford to make further trips for further court appearances, she said.

Also, he and his partner found it too difficult to come to Christchurch, where their teenage son, Jayden Andrews-Howland, was killed in the 2011 earthquake.

She said Howland had prepared the mixture – earlier said to be a combination of chocolate and flour – ahead of time in case something occurred at the quake’s five-year memorial service.

“It did occur,” she said. Howland found at the service that people were laughing at inappropriate moments and families were not being respected.

He then tipped the mixture over Mr Brownlee after the service. The particular target had not been premeditated, although he had gone prepared for something to happen.

Judge Gary MacAskill said that he would not reconsider another judge’s decision refusing to transfer the case to Greymouth, and the sentencing then went ahead.

He said he accepted that Howland was in a highly emotional state at the time of the service.

“You came prepared to be upset and to do what you did,” he said. “It was just a matter of deciding who your target was going to be. Mr Brownlee was the unfortunate victim.”

He noted that Howland was unable to pay a fine and would not have been able to pay reparation though Mr Brownlee was not asking for any emotional harm reparations.

“You can do something for the community for your poor conduct,” said the judge, imposing 80 hours of community work.


Category: Focus

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