Nottingham succeeds in Supreme Court sentence reduction

Dermot Nottingham has had a rare success in court. He has been successful in an appeal to the Supreme Court over the length of his second home detention sentence, which means he doesn’t have to serve any more of the sentence revised by the Court of Appeal.

This result doesn’t surprise me, as teh maximum home detention term is 12 months and Nottingham has served that in total, although it effectively means the sentence increased by the Court of Appeal has been wiped even though the original High Court sentence was found to be inadequate.

Nottingham was found by both the High Court and Court of Appeal to be largely responsible for publications on the notorious Lauda Finem website, and for campaigns of harassment against five people (I think considered by the police to be just the worst examples but I think that is debatable).

Nottingham just avoided having to serve a prison sentence both times, and although the Crown argued that the reduction of his home detention should have meant the alternative was prison, the Supreme Court disagreed.

Decision

Mr Nottingham was convicted of publishing information in breach of suppression orders and criminal harassment. On 26 July 2018, he was sentenced in the District Court to a term of 12 months’ home detention. Mr Nottingham appealed against conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal and the Solicitor-General appealed against sentence. By the time the Court of Appeal heard the appeal, Mr Nottingham had served three and a half months of his sentence of home detention.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Nottingham’s appeal against conviction and sentence. The Court allowed the Solicitor-General’s appeal, quashing the original sentence and imposing a new sentence of 12 months’ home detention.

Mr Nottingham was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against
sentence. The only issue on appeal was whether the Court of Appeal erred in imposing a term of home detention which would mean that, in total, Mr Nottingham would serve 15 and a half months of home detention. The issue arose because s 80A(3) of the Sentencing Act 2002 provides that the maximum term of a sentence of home detention is 12 months.

Mr Nottingham submitted that he could not lawfully be required to serve more than 12 months’ home detention as this was the statutory maximum in s 80A(3). The Solicitor-General submitted that the sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal was permissible because the Court had imposed a new sentence. In these circumstances, the Solicitor-General argued that the old sentence ceased to exist and that the new Court of Appeal sentence started on the day it was imposed.

The Supreme Court has unanimously allowed Mr Nottingham’s appeal. The Court held that s 80A(3) was clear that the maximum term of home detention that can be imposed in relation to an offence is 12 months. Therefore, the Court of Appeal did not have jurisdiction to impose a sentence of 12 months’ home detention in circumstances where Mr Nottingham had already served some time on home detention. The practical effect of the Court of Appeal’s decision was that Mr Nottingham would have to serve more than 12 months’ home detention, contrary to the maximum in s 80A(3).

In order to get to a position where Mr Nottingham’s sentence did not exceed the statutory maximum, the Supreme Court exercised its powers to vary sentences under the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. It did so by varying the sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal to a sentence of eight and a half months’ home detention with a backdated start date of 30 July 2019.

Supreme Court judgment: Dermot Gregory Nottingham v R

Court of Appeal judgment: NOTTINGHAM v R [2019] NZCA 344 [30 July 2019]

Both the High Court and Court of Appeal sentences seemed a bit contrived, both arriving at a 24 month prison sentence which is the maximum that can be converted to 12 months home detention.

The Court of Appeal stated:

The sentence was premised on the following findings of fact which we agree were consistent with the jury’s verdicts:

(a) Mr Nottingham either was LF (in other words the leading mind of that
blog) or he was so intimately related to it that it was proper to conclude
that he provided information and draft articles to that blog knowing and
intending that they would be published.

(b) Publication and other intimidating and harassing conduct was either
carried out by Mr Nottingham himself or at his direction and he knew
his conduct was likely to cause the individuals involved to fear for their
safety or that of family members.

(c) Although Mr Nottingham may, at least initially, have reasonably
believed he had legitimate grievances in respect of the complainants,
he elected to pursue these, not by lawful and reasonable means, but by
personal attacks on an “anything goes” basis.

With multiple charges and different offences sentencing can be complicated.

Based on seven convictions the High Court judge arrived at a total sentence of 2 years and 4 months prison but gave a 4 month deduction:

…to reflect what he described as Mr Nottingham’s “multi-faceted and complex” health problems s, which in the Judge’s view meant that a sentence of imprisonment would be much harder for him than for an average middle-aged man in reasonable health. He identified this as the only mitigating factor resulting in a provisional end sentence of two years’ imprisonment.

That required the judge to consider replacing that with a 1 year home detention sentence, which he did.

He said he regarded home detention as an appropriate and sufficient response, particularly because of the ability to impose restrictive conditions limiting Mr Nottingham’s activities and assisting his rehabilitation.

Special conditions were imposed including that Mr Nottingham attend
counselling or treatment programmes as directed by a probation officer and that he not use any electronic device capable of accessing the internet without prior approval from a probation officer.

Mr Nottingham said that the sentences should be commuted to time served (three and a half months home detention) and without the requirement for community work on the primary ground that the LF articles on which the harassment charges were based were “not designed to make anyone fear for their safety”.

By contrast, the Crown submitted the sentence was manifestly inadequate and that nothing less than a custodial sentence is sufficient to capture the level of denunciation and deterrence required for what it says was an egregious breach of non-publication orders and malicious and misogynistic attacks on members of the public

The Court of Appeal agreed that Nottingham’s various health issues needed to be taken into account and justified the 4 month reduction in sentence, despite the lack of remorse – he continued to blame others for his attacks on them.

But they arrived at a longer sentence of 31 months imprisonment, which in itself is too much to qualify him for home detention.

But they also had to take into account the 3 and a half months home detention Nottingham had also served, which equates to 7 months prison. So lo and behold, deducting that from the sentence it came to 24 months prison to be served, which again brought home detention into play. So it was converted to 12 months home detention again, but as the Supreme Court found, he shouldn’t serve the 3 and a half months plus the 12 months.

So in total Nottingham served 12 months home detention for a 31 month prison sentence. Such is our judicial system.

I don’t have a problem with him not serving prison time (although other victims of his harassment may have different ideas on that).

But time will tell whether the sentence served will deter Nottingham from further harassment.

We encourage the Department of Corrections Community Probation Service to consider a requirement that Mr Nottingham attend such counselling or courses as would assist him in management of his PTSD and in his incipient understanding (as recorded by the Judge) that his abrasive and combative approach to others may, in part, be consequential on this diagnosis.

His abrasive and combative approach is still apparent. While serving home detention and being banned from internet use Nottingham managed to start legal proceedings against Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield:

In doing so, Mr Nottingham has engaged in political comments of a personalised nature, particularly against the Prime Minister.

See  NOTTINGHAM v ARDERN [2020] NZCA 144 [4 May 2020].

But this isn’t the end of this case. Nottingham is still subject to six months of post detention conditions which according to his original sentencing notes and reiterated by the Supreme Court – “The standard and special
post-detention conditions imposed by the Court of Appeal remain in place for the remainder of the 12-month and six-month post-detention periods respectively” – which mirror his home detention conditions, which include:

(a) That you attend an assessment for counselling, treatment or programme as directed by a probation officer. That you attend and complete any counselling, treatment or programme as recommended by the assessment as directed by and to the satisfaction of a probation officer.

(b) You are not to associate with or contact any victim or witness of your offending without prior written approval of a probation officer, except in relation to … in relation to current proceedings. Again, the rider that it must be approved by a probation officer will cover the means by which that correspondence is to be carried out, just for the avoidance of confusion.

(c) You are not to possess or use any electronic device capable of accessing the Internet for capturing, storing, accessing or distributing images (including without limitation any personal computers, notebooks,
tablets or cellphones) without prior written approval from a probation
officer.

So those conditions are still in place for six months (I’m not sure when from).

Dermot Nottingham appeals fail, sentence increased

The original 12 month home detention sentence (three and a half of which has been served) and 100 hours community work has been quashed, and replaced with a new sentence of 12 months home detention presumably beginning from the appeal judgment made last week. He has been banned again from using the Internet for 18 months.

After being charged in 2015 and following numerous delays Dermot Nottingham went to trial last year and was found guilty by a jury of five criminal harassment charges and two breaches of court suppression orders.  He was sentenced in July 2018.

Nottingham appealed both the conviction and sentence, and the Crown also appealed the sentence, claiming it was ‘manifestly inadequate’.  Nottingham has lost both of his appeals, and the sentence has been increased, but again by a judicial whisker he has avoided a prison sentence.

NZ Herald: Blogger’s convictions for ‘malicious and misogynistic attacks’ on former MP, business people stick

Auckland’s Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey said at Nottingham’s sentencing the breaches were an “attack on the High Court”.

Judge Jonathan Down also categorised the breaches as “blatant and contemptuous” and noted Nottingham showed no remorse.

In one instance he sent one of his victims a scene from the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction, which showed a person being shot in the head.

He can be very nasty, and has attacked many people over the last decade. The charges were laid were deemed representative of the worst examples, but that’s debatable, I have heard claims of despicable attacks (disclosure –  Nottingham has attacked me extensively including trying unsuccessfully to prosecute and imprison me, which was part vindictiveness, part an attempt to concoct a defence for the charges he faced).

All of Nottingham’s harassment victims have been granted permanent name suppression.

The Crown also alleged various other acts of harassment, including “following”, and in one case initiating a private prosecution.

I’m ware of private prosecutions against seven people or companies. These all failed, and after hundreds of thousands of dollars of court costs were awarded against him Nottingham with no attempt made to pay them Nottingham was adjudicated bankrupt in September 2018.

Nottingham, who represented himself, had also called former Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to give evidence and argued at his trial that his “articles” were covered by freedom of expression rights.

Slater has also been implicated in making use of the notorious attack website that Nottingham was found to have been the main user of. From his sentencing notes last year “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem (in other words, the leading mind of that blog) or he is so intimately related to it that it is proper to conclude that he provided information and draft articles to that blog site knowing and intending that they would be published. He makes the concession…that he has never denied that he has supplied information to the website…” – see “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…”

Nottingham and Slater have been associated in a number of legal proceedings (including the attempted prosecution of myself and three others), but others have also been involved and aided and abetted, including his brothers Phillip and Antony, Marc Spring and Earle McKinney.

During his appeal, Nottingham argued his convictions should be quashed because the blog site was based overseas.

“You cannot be a party to a crime that never occurred in an overseas jurisdiction,” he said.

So he didn’t deny attacking and defaming people on the website, he just claimed he was immune from new Zealand law.

However, in his summing-up at the trial, Judge Down said: “Even if the main parts of a crime are committed abroad, if you do something to further that crime, and you have done it in New Zealand, that crime, the whole thing can be prosecuted in New Zealand.”

The Court of Appeal judges, Justice John Wild, Justice Susan Thomas and Justice Matthew Muir, agreed.

“We identify no error in that direction,” they said.

Slater’s “unambiguous position” was it was impossible to do anything online which did not leave “footprints everywhere”, the Court of Appeal decision reads.

Despite this, the Court of Appeal sided with the Crown’s position that the circumstantial evidence relied on was “very strong, if not overwhelming”.

It included text messages and internet history showing Nottingham was trying to obtain and research information about the Dudley case, particularly the names of the defendants.

While a police search of computers Nottingham had access to identified several key court documents, including the judge’s sentencing notes, witness statements and a witness list.

Seven hours before publication of the blog, Nottingham also wrote to the police officer heading the inquiry with the subject line: “Report I Am authoring on the Dudley killing”.

The Court of Appeal said much of the harassment material “could at best be described as virulent opinion with only a tangential connection to anything arguably true”.

In other words, Nottingham attacked people making false accusations and assertions, something I have seen a lot of in emails and court documents.

“As the Crown said in closing, the posts were littered with ‘hate-filled [invective]’ and were strongly misogynistic,” the judges said.

In calculating the sentence the Court of Appeal judges arrived at 31 months’ imprisonment – about 30 per cent higher than Judge Down’s end point.

However, in re-sentencing Nottingham, the trio of judges was “obliged” to take into account the three and a half months of home detention he had already served.

“Allowing a seven-month discount in this respect again brings Mr Nottingham’s sentence to a level where the court is obliged to consider home detention.”

If that had been the original sentence last year Nottingham would have ended up in prison.

The court quashed the existing, part-served, sentence and imposed a new 12 months’ home detention term, plus the 100 hours of community work for the suppression breach.

Nottingham’s special conditions also remained, and include not using any electronic device capable of accessing the internet without prior approval from a probation officer.

I take from this that the new 12 months home detention term begins from last week’s appeal judgment. And I presume there remains a further 6 month Internet ban after that, which would run through to early 2021.

At least this and his bankruptcy (after he took nearly a year to file a statement of affairs he is due to be discharged from bankruptcy on 11 September 2022) should limit his capability to attack and harass people online should also restrict his habit of vexatious litigation.

Nottingham and his gang of online thugs remain unrepentant and a lot of defamatory attack material remains online, but that poses more risks to him than anyone. I think at least one legal proceeding continues against Nottingham for posts done years ago.

Will Nottingham try to appeal this new sentence in the Supreme Court? On past behaviour he may like to try, but the Official Assignee may make that difficult if not impossible. I need to find out, because bizarrely suppression on aspects of the failed case against me continues until his case has reached a final resolution.

When more details are available online in the judgment I will do a post on that.


Many judgments with suppression involved or from the District are not published online, but here is a reference to some of those that are:

Nottingham v Maltese Cat Limited [2019] NZCA 246 (24 June 2019)

That is just back to 2015, Nottingham has a long legal history.

I think in all but one of those Nottingham lost his case.

There is one appeal he won, where a High Court judge supported a District Court judge ruling that Nottingham was in contempt of Court, but due to the judge not following procedures correctly the finding was set aside.

“Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…”

“Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem (in other words, the leading mind of that blog) or he is so intimately related to it that it is proper to conclude that he provided information and draft articles to that blog site knowing and intending that they would be published.”

“He makes the concession…that he has never denied that he has supplied information to the website…”

Following a jury trial in the District Court in Auckland in April and May 2018  Dermot Nottingham was convicted of two breaches of non-publication orders, and five charges of criminal harassment. He was sentenced to a term of a maximum one year home detention. See NZH Blogger dodges prison over court suppression breaches, harassment campaigns

The offending largely involved a website laudafinem.com that has a notorious reputation for posting many breaches of suppression as well as numerous attacks on many people, including judges, lawyers, police officers, pooliticians, journalists, business people (and businesses), and individuals – including me and two individuals who participated here.

I think that there is public interest in Nottingham’s connection with laudafinem.com be made known, as many people have been subjected to attacks and defamation.

Open justice is an important part of our country.

From a court document that is a public document (not yet available online):

[13] The detective sergeant’s efforts to establish links between Mr Nottingham and the Lauda Finem website led to an expansion of the investigation once he discovered a number of Lauda Finem articles which indicated several campaigns of harassment against individuals identified in those articles.

Conduct included:

  • Repetitively publishing articles on Lauda Finem containing fictitious, offensive and defamatory material.
  • Repetitively publishing articles on Lauda Finem about associates and family members containing fictitious, offensive and defamatory material about those persons.
  • Obtaining private photographs of the complainants and family and publishing those on Lauda Finem.
  • Photographing or causing to be photographed for publication on Lauda Finem.
  • Recording communications for publication on Lauda Finem m conjunction with offensive and defamatory material.

[18] It was clear to me that, for some of the complainants, life over an extended period of time had been made very uncomfortable and distressing, in some cases affecting the daily lives of some complainants whose reputations in their community had been so badly maligned as to cause them to withdraw within themselves.

[22] Now, I make some findings of fact. Consistent with the verdicts of the jury I have concluded that between 2010 and 2015 Dermot Nottingham published or had published numerous articles on the blog site laudafinem.com. Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem (in other words, the leading mind of that blog) or he is so intimately related to it that it is proper to conclude that he provided information and draft articles to that blog site knowing and intending that they would be published.

[23] During that five year period the defendant undertook numerous campaigns of harassment against a number of individuals, the most egregious and persistent of which were represented by the five complainants in the trial. I concluded that his conduct by publishing said articles, through other intimidating and harassing conduct – including threatening, watching, photographing, following – was either carried out directly by Dermot Nottingham or at his direction and that he knew his conduct was likely to cause the individuals to fear for their safety or the safety of family members.

[24] It was plain to me from the evidence that a number of these courses of conduct started with Mr Nottingham crossing the path of the individual complainant, either in his own capacity or on behalf of another individual, acting as their advocate. Initially, it is possible in some instances that Mr Nottingham reasonably believed he had legitimate concerns or complaints. However, rather than pursuing those complaints by lawful and reasonable means, he adopted a combative approach, I have to say reminiscent of his approach generally to the authorities and even to this Court, where he sought to achieve his goals or obtain justice by resorting to personal attack. Mr Nottingham seems to believe that, when it comes to informal media through blog sites and social media, “anything goes”.

[25] It is important to recognise and note at this stage that mainstream media are subject to codes of conduct which avoid the type of abusive and threatening articles being published in mainstream media, but bloggers and other persons who carry out their personal attacks through the medium of the Internet seem to feel that they are not bound by similar moral codes of conduct. Mr Nottingham seeks to justify and make
lawful his conduct towards others by reference to the conduct of other bloggers who habitually take an aggressive and attacking approach in purporting to uncover corruption and injustice. Further, Dermot Nottingham seeks to argue that the prosecution of him discloses bias and unfairness on the part of the police, the Crown and the Court, because others are doing similar things and getting away with it.

[26] I proceed on the basis that two wrongs do not make a right. Individuals can never escape the consequences of their unlawful conduct simply by pointing to someone else who is similarly acting unlawfully. It must also be said in the context of the evidence in this case that the degree of attack, abuse, harassment and its relentless nature appears to be far worse in Dermot Nottingham’s case than in the examples he relies upon to claim unfair and biased treatment.

[28] …The Crown submits that the key purpose of sentencing in this case should be to hold the offender accountable for the harm done to the victims, to denounce his conduct and to deter him and others from offending in a similar manner. I accept that those purposes apply in this case.

[29] The Crown further proposes that there are a number of aggravating features to the criminal harassment charges, namely the extent of the harm. The allegations against the complainants included that that they were alcoholics, used drugs, were promiscuous or were corrupt professionals and public officials. The Crown characterised the language used by Mr Nottingham as malicious, misogynistic and entirely abhorrent. Without the need for me to repeat any of those specific offensive allegations, I concur with the summary of Mr Nottingham’s conduct. I also accept that those aggravating features are present.

[31] The third aggravating feature as proposed by the Crown is that the offender, Dermot Nottingham, clearly researched his targets extensively and published intimate and personal details, including making reference to friends and family, photographs of homes and cars and their licence plates. The level of research and preparation for a number of these articles demonstrates, the Crown says, a high degree of premeditation.

[32] Finally, the Crown submits that another aggravating feature, being the number and seriousness of the offences, is present, relating not only to the number of complainants, but also the persistence and time over which that harassment was carried out or continued. I accept that all three of those aggravating features are present in this case and to a high degree.

[38] I turn now to Mr Nottingham’s position, or his submissions on sentencing. In his written submissions, Dermot Nottingham, as I have previously indicated, relies on the proposition that the Lauda Finem website treated the complainant no differently to anyone else it reports on; for instance, like Mr Slater does on his website. He makes the concession at paragraph 32 of his submissions that he has never denied that he has supplied information to the website, although he maintains his denial that he is the leading mind of that website or has any significant control over its operators

[40] On the subject of cumulative sentences, Mr Nottingham simply states that is not appropriate. Further, he submits that imprisonment is not appropriate and he seeks to focus on the behaviours of the complainants, presumably to suggest that his conduct towards them was, at some level, justifiable.

[42] Not only does such a statement reinforce the contempt with which
Mr Nottingham holds the decisions of the Court and the non-publication orders, but establishes beyond doubt that Mr Nottingham harbours no sense of remorse in relation to any of this offending.

[52]  Mr Nottingham does not qualify for any consideration of reduction of sentence for guilty pleas, or indeed for remorse. He has doggedly defended the allegations and required the complainants to give evidence. Although this does not add to the sentence I impose, it highlights why Mr Nottingham is not entitled to any discount for remorse or acceptance.

[53] In his written submissions, Mr Nottingham makes it plain that he disagrees with the findings of the jury and challenges many of the rulings of the Court. As is characteristic of his approach to legal proceedings, I anticipate that Mr Nottingham will pursue all avenues of review and appeal and is unlikely ever to accept that what he did was not only unlawful, but reprehensible.

[59] Mr Nottingham, the message to you and to others by way of deterrence is that “anything goes” is wrong. The right to free speech or freedom of expression is not a paramount right. It must be balanced against the competing rights of others in the community to be free from harassment, to be protected from harm by others who malign, abuse, threaten and undermine their peace and safety. Your activities were not harmless. Nor were they justified by your sense of injustice or unfairness. They were destructive of good order and good human relations. They were misconceived and wholly disproportionate to the harm or injustice that you believed you and others had suffered.

Given his extensive record Nottingham is likely to appeal everything he can. The Crown may also appeal the sentence – they sought a substantial prison sentence.

There are also some important lessons for bloggers in the judge’s comments.

“He makes the concession…that he has never denied that he has supplied information to the website…”

I dispute that, but that’s for another story.

I will note however that on the Lauda Finem website it was often denied that ‘Team LF’ included people in New Zealand, even though it was obvious they used a large amount of New Zealand sourced material, their posts were almost exclusively New Zealand subjects, and their campaigns had things in common with campaigns on other websites.

Nottingham has not been acting alone in all of this (the court suggested a prominent role), but associates are for another story.

The laudafinem.com website started up in July 2010, and was shut down by a New Zealand court order in late 2016. Another site was set up but ceased activity in March 2017.


NOTE: This case was subject to suppression (non-publication orders) – and the private prosecutions of myself and three others were also bound by this. I have been advised by the court that this suppression lapsed on the sentencing of Nottingham.

However the case involves other cases that are still subject to non-publication orders (suppressed), so details on them must not be published.

Due to on-going suppression orders comments here will be strictly moderated. Do not try to identify anyone who is not named in the quotes from the court document here in any way.

Policeman revealed as stalker

Suppression has been lifted and it has now been revealed that a policeman was the person convicted of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage in Dunedin.

In April a case involving the stalking and harassment of a Dunedin businessman was revealed – see ODT  Stalked man sure death was coming:

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 the suppression was partly lifted – 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.

Keeping the occupation of Buis proved futile with social media soon making it easy to find out a disturbing aspect of the case.

But now this suppression has been lifted.

NZ Herald: Court says man who harassed Dunedin businessman for 2.5 years can be revealed as policeman

Constable Jeremy Fraser Buis, 39, was sentenced following a judge-alone trial in March to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay the victim, Danny Pryde, $15,000 after being found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage.

At sentencing, Judge Paul Kellar suppressed the man’s occupation at the request of defence counsel Anne Stevens.

But yesterday, the Otago Daily Times successfully appealed the ruling in the High Court at Dunedin.

Counsel Charlotte Carr said: “To treat a police officer differently could lead to ridicule and contempt from the public and to suppress a particular occupation invites a perception that certain classes of persons will be treated differently before the court.”

Justice David Gendall said the judge’s grounds for the suppression of the man’s profession were unclear and he said there was “significant public interest” in the order being quashed.

“Ordering the suppression of Mr Buis’ occupation because he is a police officer undermines the principle that all members of society are equal under the law,” Gendall said.

“Police are not entitled to special treatment.”

This is a sensible decision. That a policeman was involved was of substantial public interest.

The news was welcomed by Pryde, who had voiced his disappointment at the situation after sentencing in April.

“It’s more of a relief to know it is public. I don’t know why it was ever a secret,” he said. “I had to be very careful about what I said.”

Pryde was quick to point out it was Buis, not the police, who wanted the profession kept under wraps.

It had put Pryde in a difficult situation, especially online. He was involved in Facebook discussions where the occupation of Buis became fairly easy to work out (from the comments of some others, not Pryde).

Southern District commander Superintendent Paul Basham confirmed yesterday that the defendant had been suspended in February 2015 and an employment process was ongoing.

Basham said it was not part of a wider problem.

“The behaviour reported on through the case is not reflective of the wider culture in the police in 2017,” he said.

Of the 700 staff in the region he said the vast majority acted professionally but “you have a few who occasionally let the side down”.

Basham said there was a speak-up policy in place encouraging staff to report any adverse behaviour.

“Those conversations are happening regularly and I think we have a generation of staff coming through that are mindful about those issues,” he said.

Buis certainly “let the side down”, but I think it is correct and just that his occupation can now be known and talked about publicly.

This was a serious and sustained abuse of power by a policeman.

Stalker case – surprise over job ‘secrecy’

Further to Questionable sentence and suppression after criminal harassment the ODT has followed up today with more on the attempt to keep the person convicted of criminal harassment and intentional damage a secret.

A public servant who subjected a Dunedin businessman to “a living hell” for two and a-half years has finally been named – but his occupation remains under wraps.

Jeremy Fraser Buis (39), appearing in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay the victim $15,000 after being found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage, following a week-long, judge-alone trial last month.

The victim – Danny Pryde – voluntarily gave up his own name suppression yesterday and said he was “extremely surprised” Buis’ job was kept secret.

“I think that’s quite important for the public to know … his profession and I don’t know why they’d hold that back,” he said.

More than quite important, but there is some ‘Streisand effect’ in action because it has increased publicity and outrage.

Judge Paul Kellar gave no reasons for his decision, which was made after counsel Anne Stevens said publication of the job would cast aspersions on Buis’ colleagues.

Suppression hasn’t prevented aspersions being cast, in fact it has probably made it more likely.

University of Otago dean of law Prof Mark Henaghan said the situation was unusual and almost futile.

“Once the name is released, people can find out what he does,” he said.

It’s simple to find out, even without seeing or hearing it said all over the place (which is happening).

Police said he was released from court after sentencing through an “alternative exit”, rather than the public doors, to avoid conflict with the victim’s family.

“Avoidance of the media was not a consideration,” the spokesman said.

I don’t think that’s an issue. The suppression of Buis’ occupation is.

Mr Pryde, owner of Pryde Engineering, said he wanted to lift the lid on the ordeal which had permeated almost every area of his life.

“I’ve got a business to run and it’s extremely embarrassing trying to explain this to customers,” he said.

“I’m happy for them to read about it and sympathise if they feel the need to.”

Mr Pryde believed the sentence was light and described the $15,000 emotional-harm payment, which the court heard Buis had borrowed, as “dirty money”.

“I’d almost be prepared to give that away to charity. He tried to destroy my business and my marriage. [Money] doesn’t fix those things,” he said.

Danny is a good and innovative engineer. I don’t see them often now but Danny and his wife have always seemed to me to be very nice people. They, and no one, deserves to be treated this badly.

I think that continued suppression of Buis’ occupation is worse for his employer and his colleagues (or ex colleagues) than being open and up front about it.

NOTE: Nothing that reveals the occupation of Buis can be tolerated here.

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’