A judge issued a warning about “vigilante justice” after two brothers from a small migrant community admitted kidnapping and assault charges over a schoolyard bullying incident.
They were given community detention and community work sentences by Christchurch District Court Judge Raoul Neave, after probation reports assessed them as being low risks of reoffending.
But Judge Neave told them: “We can’t have this kind of mob rule and vigilante justice in a civilised society.”
He told the brothers, aged 28 and 33, that they had clearly worked hard to establish themselves in the Christchurch community after going through considerable struggle and strife to get to New Zealand.
“You have worked hard and undoubtedly will continue to do so, but you need to remember you are bound by the rules of our society.”
Judge Neave suppressed the names of the two men, until after the trial of a third brother who faces a more serious charge. Their community is so small that it cannot be identified either.
The 28-year-old admitted two charges of kidnapping, two assaults, and a theft. The 33-year-old admitted two charges of kidnapping and one assault.
Judge Neave said the incident in June 2015 arose from a disagreement between members of their ethnic community. An altercation between youths had led to concerns about schoolyard bullying.
Instead of allowing matters to be resolved by the proper authorities or within the wider community, the men had taken it upon themselves to “administer some private justice,” said Judge Neave.
Eventually, the matter had been resolved within the community. There had been an informal restorative justice meeting and the court was told it had been “all sorted out internally”.
For the younger man, defence counsel Glenn Dixon said his client felt that the prosecution had been very shameful for himself and his family, and he was worried that publication would cause hardship or bullying at school for his own children. “You can be sure there will be no repeat action of this type,” he told Judge Neave.
For the 33-year-old, defence counsel Allister Davis said his client was concerned about shame for the rest of his family, and for his children who attended local schools. He had expressed his regret and remorse.
The incident involved two victims aged about 16. On the evening of June 8, 2015, after a physical altercation involving those youths and another teenager, the police say two brothers met the victims as they were leaving Westfield Mall and said they wanted to take them to see their father at their house.
They got into a vehicle where another man was waiting, and they then picked up a fourth man.
Cellphones were taken from the two youths, but were recovered later by the police.
The two men sentenced today admitted elbowing hitting the youths. One admitted elbowing and the other admitting kicking.
The victims were let out of the car in Tai Tapu and hitch-hiked back to their vehicle in Riccarton. They received bruising and soreness.
Both brothers were sentenced to six months of community detention, and the younger one must do 200 hours of community work while the older man does 150 hours.