Questionable sentence and suppression after criminal harassment

A case in Dunedin details over two years of sustained harassment and threats against a man and his family started by a parking ticket dispute. Concerns have been raised about the community sentence and continued suppression of the offender’s occupation.

Suppression on the case changed overnight.

Yesterday morning the ODT reported in Stalked man sure death was coming:

A Dunedin businessman who was stalked for more than two and a-half years by a government employee was convinced the man would kill him.

The 39-year-old defendant was yesterday found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage, following a week-long, judge-alone trial last month.

His name and occupation will remain suppressed at least until this morning’s sentencing in the Dunedin District Court.

The victim and his wife — whose identities are permanently suppressed…

But later yesterday in Dunedin stalker named:

Today, before the Dunedin District Court, the judge sentenced Buis to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay Mr Pryde $15,000.

The public servant who spent two and a-half years stalking a Dunedin businessman can now be named.

Jeremy Buis (39), of Dunedin, was yesterday found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage.

Buis has had name suppression since the charges were laid some two years ago but today defence counsel Anne Stevens said there was no application to have that extended.

While Judge Paul Kellar let the suppression order lapse, he continued the suppression of the defendant’s occupation at Mrs Stevens’ request.

She said it would unfairly cast aspersions on others doing the same job as her client.

This has raised a lot of discussion and criticism. It seems to be well known around town what Buis’ occupation was, and it is quite pertinent to the case.

NOTE: no hints about the man’s occupation can be allowed here as it is suppressed under order of the Court.

Given the length and nature of the harassment – and the occupation of the offender – the sentence has been questioned too.

And despite permanent suppression of the victim’s identity being initially reported:

The businessman can also be named as Danny Pryde, owner of Pryde Engineering.

Outside court Mr Pryde said he was disappointed Buis’ occupation was suppressed and that the judge had declined an application to photograph him in court.

He described the $15,000 reparation awarded as “dirty money” and said he was tempted to give it away to charity.

“He tried to destroy my business and my marriage. [Money] doesn’t fix those things,” Mr Pryde said.

‘‘Mentally, he has really hurt us.’’

On December 2, 2014, the harassment reached its peak when the defendant’s messages took a violent turn.

He told the victim to ‘‘get your affairs in order’’ and advised him to ‘‘buy something bullet-proof’’.

‘‘I honestly thought that afternoon was my last day on Earth. I felt sick,’’ the victim said.

‘‘I thought ‘he’s lost the plot and he’s going to do it’.’’

This sounded shocking enough, but I was more surprised when his identity was revealed because I know Danny, he used to be a neighbour and he and his wife were very nice people. It’s awful to hear what they have been subjected to. I don’t see them often now and didn’t know anything about this case apart from what has been reported.

The sustained campaign of harassment started over a trivial matter – a parking dispute.

The saga began on June 14, 2012, when the defendant parked his car blocking the rear driveway to the victim’s business.

The company owner called the council, who promptly ticketed the vehicle, which led to a confrontation between the men.

‘‘He deliberately parked across the entranceway to [the business] the next day to make a point,’’ Judge Kellar said.

Despite the defendant claiming he had no animosity towards the victim, the judge highlighted the fact he subsequently made a complaint to police over alleged damage to his car.

‘‘From what should have been an innocuous incident about parking I am sure that [he] has engaged in a sustained period of harassment of [the victim] for . . . over two years,’’ Judge Kellar said.

It began with anonymous text messages from a range of unknown numbers.

But in February 2014, things escalated when the public servant set up a fake homosexual online dating profile using the businessman’s name and contact details from his work website.

When police raided the defendant’s house nearly two years later, forensic electronic evidence from his laptop identified him as the culprit.

He noted much of the abuse had a distinctly homosexual theme. The victim’s contact details were written in marker pen at a gay hangout and graffiti featuring the man’s name alongside gay slurs began popping up around the city.

When police analysed the defendant’s phone, they found he had communicated with colleagues over an app during which he voiced his hatred for the victim.

A hatred that became a very nasty obsession that resulted in a sustained campaign to not only ruin the victim’s life but also his family and his business. And it is claimed it didn’t end with the arrest or trial.

Despite the recent trial, the victim revealed he was still receiving anonymous text messages and was informed a couple of weeks ago someone had created a fake profile on the dating app Tinder using his photo.

There are suggestions (rumours) of others being involved, making the continued suppression of the man’s occupation more of a concern. Anyone who wants to know is likely to have found out anyway, and the attempt at secrecy feeds the rumour rather than gags it.

But we must comply with the Court and not mention Buis’ occupation (it is known and able to be published that he also runs a surf board business) so please, don’t attempt to breach suppression in any way here.

Stuff also has detailed coverage: ‘I was in a dark place’ – victim of Dunedin government staffer’s prolonged harassment campaign

The victim of a prolonged harassment campaign by a Dunedin government employee has spoken of the fear that almost drove him to take his own life.

Dunedin businessman Daniel Pryde waived his right to name suppression after Jeremy Buis was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court on Friday.

Buis was found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage in the judge’s reserved decision delivered on Thursday.

But…

On January 19, 2017, just weeks out from the trial, he received the text “Happy new year limpdick”.

Another said he was a wife beater, while another text referenced his vehicle as he went shopping with his family.

So did Buis continue the harassment even though a trial was pending? Or is someone else, or others, also involved.

See follow up: Stalker case – surprise over job ‘secrecy’

Leave a comment

19 Comments

  1. Brown

     /  April 22, 2017

    Should have be jail time – and lots of it. Should also be a ban from the civil service (apart from IRD where he would fit right in).

    Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 22, 2017

    If you [deleted, please don’t suggest how even though it’s obvious – PG]. Having done so I am doubly outraged at the suppression and doubly again that he is still employed in that department. Disgraceful and completely intolerable. Some heads should roll there.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 22, 2017

      That supression order can’t be allowed to stand. Are any media organisations appealing it?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 22, 2017

        I’m presuming the police are not. The media reports don’t say they raised any objection.

        Reply
      • I don’t know if it was opposed in court. Suppression can be tricky to oppose because it can come at the end of a hearing with a lot of stuff going on and if the judge then slaps on a full or partial suppression, especially one that makes no sense, then it’s hard to be prepared to contest it.

        No sign of an appeal that I’ve seen.

        But the media are giving the case plenty of publicity which pretty much ensures that the suppression is futile anyway.

        Reply
    • I understand he has been suspended (on full pay) since being arrested, for two years (while the harassment continued).

      I also understand that now convicted he won’t remain an employee.

      Reply
  3. I cannot actually believe that jail wasn’t considered. Threatening to kill is what I saw.

    Horrific case of stalking.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 22, 2017

      I’m presuming the sentence was affected by his occupation.

      Reply
      • Hard to know without hearing what the judge said at sentencing, but the day before when announcing the conviction:

        After convicting the defendant yesterday the judge indicated jail was not likely, but the man was likely to spend some months attending counselling.

        I don’t know if a custodial sentence would help the victims and possible not the offender now, but the message the sentence sends is not a good one overall, it stinks.

        Reply
        • ‘Get your affairs in order” “buy something bullet-proof” ! How blatant can you get, without pointing a gun? Give us a break NZ judiciary.

          Reply
  4. What, I don’t wonder, would his fate be if he’d done/said/written the same things to a judge?

    Reply
  5. I can understand his occupation being suppressed IF Buis is subject to an internal investigation within the department employing him.

    The concern would be if he had access to privileged information in his role, accessed it unlawfully and used that information to carry out the harassment then there are serious issues for the department to resolve. Issues of employment, processes and also importantly quality assurance around data security.

    Though given this has been before the courts for a wee while you would think the department should have everything teed up by now and be prepared to front the issue publicly.

    Maybe Winston should ask a question or two in the House to flush this out properly.

    Justice needs to be seen to be done, without fear or favour…. and this suppression is dodgy

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  April 22, 2017

      I don’t know if can do that. He’d be breaching the convention that MP’s don’t criticise the judiciary & vice versa. Winston will already know what department it is anyway. I & others here already do.

      Reply
      • You know and I have guessed. But the general public don’t and they have a right to know.

        Doesn’t even need to attack the Judiciary – though the lord knows they deserve it with some of their nonsensical rulings at times.

        He just needs to ask the Minister in charge what if any problems have been found at the ministry related o this case….

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  April 22, 2017

          His employers & Ministers are covered by the suppression order as well. I don’t know whether the department sought suppression or whether the judge just decided off his own bat to suppress the offender’s occupation.

          Reply
          • That is a disgrace if it was sought by the Ministers, the CE’s or the SSC.

            If Buis used the governments resources for a personal vendetta then the CE of the Ministry or his/her Minister needs to come clean with that and needs to present an improved framework to root that type of behaviour out/stop that sort of behaviour happening.

            And that framework needs to be cultural as well as Processes & Systems based.

            This is simple stuff – maybe less focus on fluff bs around diversity etc and more focus on core responsibilities needs to be called for.

            Reply
  6. Nelly Smickers

     /  April 22, 2017

    Goodness, having just read the article in *Stuff* and seeing the photos of the criminal damage that was being done with all the graffiti and everything…as Wayne said, where were the police when all this was occurring ❓

    Reply

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