World Cup streaker dodges conviction

Court House-doorwayFergus Alexander Watts’ cricket World Cup streak was described as “something dumb” by a judge, but the 21-year-old got his discharge without conviction.

Watts, an engineering student, will have to pay a $750 donation to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust.

He is in the final year of his studies, and defence counsel Andrew McCormick said Watts had the prospect of a combining work overseas with professional hockey. He argued at the Christchurch District Court sentencing that a conviction for the naked run could stop that happening.

Watts carried out his streak at the Scotland versus England Cricket World Cup match at Hagley Oval on February 23. The court was told he was sober, but egged-on by his friends. It happened during a break in play, when Scotland was batting but the chances of win had slipped away, Mr McCormick said.

Judge David Saunders said: “Stupidity can’t be legislated against. It happens.”

Police prosecutor Chris Hunt replied: “We would all be somewhat under-employed if it wasn’t for stupidity.”

Watts fled after the streak and was arrested in South Hagley Park.

He pleaded guilty to the charge under the Major Events Management Act in March and was remanded for today’s hearing after defence counsel Andrew McCormick said he wished to make application for a discharge without conviction.

The maximum penalty under the Act is a fine of up to $5000 or imprisonment for up to three months.

Mr McCormick pointed out that a streaker at a similar event in Eden Park, Auckland, had been granted diversion as a first offender and had escaped conviction.

He described Watts’ offence as “tomfoolery”.

Judge Saunders described it as “something dumb” but considered whether Watts should be “saddled with a conviction for the rest of his life for one dumb mistake”.

He said police had been concerned to enforce the law as a deterrent, because the event had been a showcase for New Zealand and it seemed disrespectful to the authorities running the tournament if people were allowed diversion or discharges without conviction after disrupting matches.

He noted that another Christchurch streaker had been fined.




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