Man fined for offensive comments to mosque victims

A 33-year-old man has admitted offensive behaviour for a confrontation with mosque shooting families and victims outside the Christchurch Courts after the last appearance of the alleged shooter on June 14.

Rodrick Wayne Woods, 33, declined to take part in a restorative justice meeting with the people who heard his comments that they should “get over” the mosque shooting incident on March 15 in which 51 people were killed.

Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan fined him $750 and told him his views were not shared by the majority of people.

Woods apologised through his lawyer, Nicola Hansen, but she said he declined a restorative justice meeting with those who heard his comments on Lichfield Street, soon after the appearance of the alleged gunman, Brenton Harrison Tarrant.

She said Woods accepted that his comments were “inappropriate, and in the context they were very offensive.”

He was remorseful, she said. “To be clear, he does not hold any white supremacist views himself and does not identify as a white supremacist.”

Police prosecutor Sergeant Iain Patton told the court Woods approached the group of people at 10.50am on June 14, as they were speaking to media after attending the appearance by Tarrant in the High Court where he pleaded not guilty to 51 murder charges, 40 charges of attempted murder, and a charge under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

He was asked to go away but refused. He then said they “need to get over the incident” and that “white supremacists own the land”.

His comments caused people to become upset and distressed, said Sergeant Patton.

He was spoken to by police and accepted that it was not the right time or place to make his comments.

Judge Callaghan said his comments were “totally uncalled for”. “They are not shared by the majority of members of the community who understand and appreciate that everybody has the right to be treated equally regardless of their background, creed or ethnicity.”

He said he was pleased that Woods had expressed through his lawyer that it was not a belief he held. “I certainly trust that’s the case.”

“The comments you made, especially in the climate now as a result of the events of March 15, were highly inflammatory and I can understand the effect they would have had on the whole community and those affected by the incident,” said Judge Callaghan.

The offence carries a maximum fine of $1000. The judge imposed a fine of $750 and ordered Woods to come up if called up on within six months on an unrelated charge of breaching his prison release conditions. He was released from prison on October 24 and failed to report to a probation officer as required.