Warning over threats or support in mosque video prosecutions

A judge has warned people about making threats or offering support online to the men facing charges over handling of the mosque shooting video.

Death threats have already been made, Crown prosecutor Pip Currie told Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll as the cases were called today.

The threats have led to the Crown taking a neutral stance about continuing name suppression for many of those charged as their cases progress through the system.

The Crown is also concerned that if names are known through the lifting of the current suppression orders, then people might offer support online to those charged.

Judge O’Driscoll said: “It would be wise to let justice take its course without any outside interference, by anyone either supporting those who have come before the court, or anyone wishing to exact some form of justice on them before they come before court.”

The Crown has also relented about its insistence at first appearances last month that most of those held remain in custody. Several were released on bail today, but interim suppression orders were continued.

One man charged has pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful possession of the manifesto of the alleged mosque shooter. He was remanded in custody to April 26 to consider his plea to a newly laid charge of distributing the shooting video.

Mrs Currie said the manifesto was found on the 22-year-old fisherman’s cellphone. It had been downloaded in the three days after the mosque shootings.

The man told police he did not agree with government censorship and he had a right to have the manifesto, review it, and make his own decision “under the Bill of Rights”.

One man aged 17, charged with distributing the video of the mosque killings, has asked for diversion under the scheme that allows first offenders to avoid convictions if they apologise and make amends.

The diversion has been refused by the Crown but the man’s defence counsel, Anselm Williams, has asked for a review of the decision. The man was further remanded on bail to May 13 for a plea to be entered.

Another man, aged 41, was remanded on bail without plea to May 6 on charges alleging possession of objectionable material, possession of a pipe for smoking methamphetamine, possession of a pistol, and possession of cannabis.

On bail, he must live at a specified address, abide by a nightly curfew, not go within 500m of a mosque, not associate with two specified people, not access the internet, and not use or carry firearms. His name was suppressed and photography by media was refused.

Another man, Philip Neville Arps, facing two charges of distributing the video, was remanded in custody without plea to April 26.

A 21-year-old was granted bail on a charge of distributing the mosque video, because the Crown did not oppose it any longer. He has entered no plea and was remanded to May 15 with continued name suppression.

He will have to live at a specified address, abide by a curfew at night, not go within 500m of any mosque, only access the internet to pay bills with his mother’s supervision, not associate with three named people, and not use or possess firearms.

A 55-year-old man arrested after a police raid on a property north of Christchurch, but only facing charges of possessing equipment for cultivating cannabis and possession of a restricted weapon – a taser – was released on bail for his remand to May 10 for pleas to be entered. He has to live at a specified address, abide by a curfew, and not possess any firearms. Interim suppression was granted.

An 18-year-old was remanded in custody to a Crown case review hearing on July 31 on a charge of distributing the shooting video. He has pleaded not guilty. Bail was refused but defence counsel Andrew McKenzie indicated that an application for the man’s release on electronically monitored bail would be made in the meantime. He has name suppression until the case review.

An 18-year-old facing charges of possessing the objectionable video, and threatening behaviour likely to incite violence, was remanded in custody without plea to April 24 for an electronically monitored bail application to be made. Name suppression was granted and ordinary bail was refused.