Nottingham conviction and sentence appeal – judgment

The Court of Appeal judgment of Dermot Nottingham’s unsuccessful appeals against conviction and sentence (and the successful Crown appeal calling for a harsher sentence) is now online – NOTTINGHAM v R [2019] NZCA 344 [30 July 2019].

The judgment found that there was strong evidence linking Nottingham with harassing and defamatory posts on the Lauda Finem website – I will cover this in more detail in another post.

Nottingham’s argument in his defence were in part self-defeating. He claimed:

  • Posts on an overseas based blog (Lauda Finem) were not covered by New Zealand law.
  • There was no evidence that he was responsible for the posts.
  • The posts were truthful so could not be deemed to be harassment or breaches of suppression.
  • The five people he was found guilty of harassing “started it” and deserved to be attacked.

The trial jury, the trial judge and the three Court of Appeal judges disagreed with him on all these claims.

His sentence was increased to 31 months in prison, but as he had already served three and a half months home detention this still qualified him for a home detention sentence. While the offences were judged to be serious he was largely spared time in prison due to serious health problems. He was re-sentenced to a further 12 months home detention (including a ban on using the internet), 100 hours commununity service, plus a further six month ban on using the internet after home detention finishes.

He was originally charged in 2015 and went to trial last year after a number of delays.

Following a five-week jury trial before Judge Down, Mr Nottingham was convicted in May 2018 of five charges of criminal harassment and two charges of publishing information in breach of a suppression order. He was subsequently
sentenced by the Judge to 12 months’ home detention and 100 hours of community work. He appeals both his conviction and sentence. The Solicitor-General also appeals the sentence, on the grounds of manifest inadequacy and error in principle.

The suppression charges:

In his summing-up, Judge Down directed that publication of the brothers’ names had occurred in New Zealand in breach of the suppression order. The key issues for the jury were, therefore, whether Mr Nottingham was the publisher or a party to the publication, and whether he had done so knowingly or recklessly in breach of the suppression order

The criminal harassment charges:

In the course of investigating the breaches of name suppression, the police identified a number of LF articles which they considered amounted to criminal harassment. Charges were laid in respect of five complainants, all of whom have been granted permanent name suppression and who we will refer to as T, C, H, B and M. The common denominator between them all was that they had at some stage crossed Mr Nottingham’s path in circumstances he took issue with.

In respect of each complainant, articles appeared on the LF website containing material the Crown alleged was “offensive” in terms of the Harassment Act 1997.

The articles included names, photographs and other personal details indicating extensive background research on each of the targets. It was alleged that some of the photographs had been obtained by Mr Nottingham or by one of his associates at Mr Nottingham’s direction. It was common for Mr Nottingham to ensure that articles were drawn to his complainants’ attention by providing them with the electronic links. The Crown also alleged various other acts of harassment — including “following” and in one case initiating a private prosecution.

At the same time he was being prosecuted for those offences Nottingham and associates continued act in a similar manner, as the many ongoing attack posts on LF show. He also unsuccessfully attempted four other private prosecutions, including one against myself. Two of these went to trial and were dismissed and described as vexatious.

As he attempted several times in my case he applied to adduce new evidence, usually a last minute stunt (the morning of hearings and in two cases during a hearing).

Mr Nottingham filed four affidavits, including one of 333 paragraphs by his brother, P R Nottingham. We assume the premise to be that they represent fresh or relevant new evidence.

We do not regard any of this material as meeting the test for admission in Lundy v R. It is neither fresh, nor (in most cases) relevant.

That sounds very familiar.

The breach of suppression order charges:

Mr Nottingham pursues two arguments:

(a) LF is overseas domiciled and “you cannot be a party to a crime that never occurred in an overseas jurisdiction”.

In his summing-up, the Judge directed that, as a matter of law, publication occurs where material is comprehended and downloaded and that accordingly there was publication in New Zealand irrespective of LF’s domicile. He said that this was a function of “Judge-made” law and that it was also a feature of s 7 of the Crimes Act 1961.

We identify no error in that direction. It did not involve any assumption of extra-territorial jurisdiction. It stated what we regard as a now uncontentious proposition: that a blog available to New Zealand internet users is regarded as published in New Zealand.

They make it clear that using an overseas based website (like WordPress) does not exempt you from New Zealand law if  it is directed at a New Zealand audience.

Physical location of the LF server was, in that context, irrelevant. What was required was proof either of direct publication (that Mr Nottingham was LF), indirect publication (that Mr Nottingham was a co-principal with LF, working directly with it to effect publication in New Zealand) or that he was a party to LF’s publication. That is exactly as the trial Judge put it to the jury, supported by an accurate description of the “party” requirements. Mr Krebs is correct that the question of whether Mr Nottingham “caused” the publication (in any of the legal senses relevant) was a matter of fact for the jury. No error of law was made by the trial Judge.

(b) The Crown failed to establish to the criminal standard that he was either the publisher of the material or a party to its publication.

The Crown advanced a circumstantial case. As Mr Nottingham reminded us, there was no “smoking gun” in the sense of an email attaching a final draft of the articles sent to LF. Nor was there any “electronic footprint” on any of the computers searched by the police which demonstrated that the article, as published, had originated from Mr Nottingham.

…Turning then to the circumstantial evidence relied on by the Crown to establish publication, we agree with Ms Brook that it was very strong, if not overwhelming.

I will cover this more detail in the next post,

We are not therefore satisfied that the verdicts on the breach of suppression charges were unreasonable or that the convictions resulted from a miscarriage of justice.

In Nottingham’s hapless attempt at prosecuting me (and three others) he claimed that we had in some convoluted way enabled people to find their way to suppression breach posts on LF – posts that he has been found guilty of posting.

Conviction appeal — the criminal harassment charges

Again, both the Crown and Mr Krebs submit that the appropriate approach is to treat Mr Nottingham’s appeal as essentially a challenge to the reasonableness of the jury verdicts. We agree, although noting that the main focus of Mr Nottingham’s second set of written submissions (filed on the morning of the appeal hearing), and of his oral submissions, was on the proposition that he ought not to have been convicted because the statements made in the articles (whether by him or not) were true or, alternatively, opinions based in truth.

…Identity (in the sense of responsibility for the acts either as principal or party) was therefore in issue on all charges. Again, Mr Nottingham’s position (both at trial and on appeal) was that there was no evidence of information being communicated from computers under his control to the LF website. And again, the Crown case was (and is) the evidence identifying him as the “driving force” behind the harassment was, if not overwhelming, certainly very strong. We start with that issue, because of its relevance also to the breach of suppression convictions.

We do not consider it necessary to set out all of the circumstantial evidence relied on by the Crown to establish identity in respect of each of the harassment charges. We agree that the jury’s conclusion on the facts was one reasonably available to it. Indeed, we consider it almost inevitable.

In the case of T, Mr Nottingham sent her a link to the first article immediately after it was published and a draft, created two days before publication, was found on a computer to which he had access. In addition, images appearing in the other articles were found on the same computer.

In the case of C, word versions of all three articles were found on a computer to which Mr Nottingham had access together with images from the articles. Likewise, drafts of other unpublished articles were also found.

In the case of B, although no draft of the principal article (published on 24 April 2013) was identified, the draft of another “unpublished” article (prepared approximately a year later) was found, and this contained very similar references to the 2013 publication. For example, the published article interposed the description “belted” between the complainant’s first and last names, and the draft contained the phrase “Beat Me”. The published article described her as “a stupid troll”, the draft as a “dumb cow” and “complete fuckwit”.

In the case of H, a word version of the first article was found on one of the computers, together with photographic images which were included in the articles and a screen shot of H’s Facebook profile. Likewise, screenshots of images in the third article were identified, as was the draft of another unpublished article in a similar vein.

And in respect of M, a word version of the first article was found on a computer to which Mr Nottingham had access together with the image of H which appeared in the same article.

In addition to this specific evidence, there was also a body of general evidence establishing either that Mr Nottingham was LF, a co-principal of LF or was, at a minimum, a party to the publications.

Although much was made of the fact that others had access to the computers at Mr Nottingham’s Hillsborough residence, particularly his brothers Anthony and Phillip, there was ample evidence that Mr Nottingham had overall responsibility and control. For example, there was an email in which Anthony told Mr Nottingham to stop treating him “like one of your fucking employees”.

Funny. While the Nottinghams, and other associatess like Earle McKinney, Marc Spring and Cameron Slater, where all involved in various ways in various campaigns of attack and harassment, they didn’t always get along with each other. very well.

By a wide margin we conclude that on the issue of “identity”, Mr Nottingham fails to satisfy us that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable.

Nottingham has tried to claim or imply it wasn’t him, but if it was it didn’t matter anyway.

Mr Nottingham cast the prosecution as an attack on his unalienable rights of free speech and as having a “chilling effect” on his “legitimate exercise of natural and legal rights”. He said that truth is a complete answer to any allegation that material given to any person or placed on electronic media was offensive within the terms of the Harassment Act.

Except that as is made clear later while posts at LF may have been based on skerricks of truth they were substantially embellished and bolstered by false claims.

The trial judge is quoted:

It has been pointed out already that given the highly inflammatory and abusive language used to impart the truth in some of these Lauda Finem articles, the Crown says that claim of truth is something of a red herring. It is also fair to say that even truthful allegations can be made and repeated in ways that are intended to and do in fact harass.

You might remember [C] in cross-examination saying effectively that these things are not true (was her response) but, even if they were, it does not mean that they can be repeated and presented in this way, in a way that makes me feel harassed and frightened.

The Court of Appeal:

We do not consider the trial Judge to have erred in his approach to this issue. The jury was legitimately entitled to take into account truth or falsity in its assessment of offensiveness, but it was only one part of a composite of considerations relevant in that respect.

Much of what was published could at best be described as virulent opinion with only a tangential connection to anything arguably true. And in respect of many of the comments, we regard even that description as excessively generous.

As the Crown said in closing, the posts were littered with “hate-filled [invective]” and were strongly misogynistic.
T was, for example, described as a “useless fucktard” and “scum of scum of scum and then some scum”. It was said that she wanted an identified person dead and was operating “in a similar fashion to the manner in which the [Nazis] singled out the Jewish community”. In respect of C, her surname was predicated by the sobriquet “cumsac”. And it was said she needed to be “brought to justice before she commits very serious offending such as murder”.

M was described as a “bent ex-cop” with the suggestion he was “on the take” (allegations vehemently denied and never established).

I have seen Nottingham claim many things (in court documents) as truth and evidence that has not been backed up with any actual evidence.

Anyone who has read through posts on LF will recognise this style of attack that bears very little semblance to “truth”.

It was not unreasonable for the jury to identify such material as offensive.

Now the bit where Nottingham claims he was justified in doing what he also tried to claim he didn’t do.

We also note that the “lawful purpose” which Mr Nottingham asserted at trial was his ability to respond to actions by the complainants which he considered to be unlawful or unjust.

(H was alleged to have been complicit in her husband’s operation of a website Mr Nottingham considered to be fraudulent; M was alleged to havemisconducted himself in office in a way which resulted in financial loss to
Mr Nottingham; C had made a police complaint about an associate of Mr Nottingham’s he alleged to be false; T had made accusations he considered baseless and B had assisted H’s husband).

A similar point appears in his written submissions on appeal, where he refers to “the issue as to whether the complainants had contributed to their problems”, albeit in a paragraph which combines submissions in relation to both conviction and sentencing. In oral submissions he further urged on us the fact that “they started it”.

We note the inconsistency of that argument with his underlying proposition that there was inadequate proof he was either the publisher of the LF articles or a party thereto.

However, that aside, the proposition that “they deserved it” was self-evidently not a defence to the charges Mr Nottingham faced.

We are also satisfied that the jury’s verdict was not unreasonable in its implicit acceptance that the intention/knowledge requirements in s 8 of the Harassment Act were proven.

The Crown case was that anyone who discovered they were a target of LF would reasonably fear for, among other things, their mental wellbeing and that this was plainly intended by Mr Nottingham, or at least he knew that it was a likely result.

As previously stated, attacks along similar lines continued on LF at the same time that Nottingham was being prosecuted – and he was protected from public exposure with name suppression.

T’s concerns included to her physical wellbeing. This was because of photographs posted to the site from someone who had clearly been tracking her movements and because the phrase “two head shots to be sure”, had been inserted  between her first and last names in the 29 April 2013 article. Her fears were compounded by the fact that the article was forwarded to her with a link to a scene from the Quentin Tarantino film “Pulp Fiction” which showed a person being shot in the head.

Although Mr Nottingham suggested that this was a reference to T’s treatment of certain people, we agree with the Judge that “it is not unreasonable and should have been foreseeable that those statements would be read as a threat towards [T]”.

I had implied death threats directed at myself on LF and Twitter, but I suspect it more likely to be via associates.

Nottingham submitted that the trial judge:

… did not fairly sum up the competing evidence, effectively casting aside the evidence that established that [the complainants] were not telling the truth, when the prosecution was alleging defamation.

But:

In this case, we regard as compelling the following exchange between the Judge and Mr Nottingham which occurred in chambers immediately after the summing-up:

The Court: All right, now any matters arising?

Mr Nottingham: Sir, may I comment that that was a very fair summing up.

The Court: Thank you. I tried very hard to ensure that it was.

Mr Nottingham: It was.

A number of other complaints were dissected and overruled.

Accordingly, Mr Nottingham’s appeal against conviction is dismissed.

The sentence appeals

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.

The trial judge on the harassment charges…

…it went “without saying” that all of the offences were sufficiently serious to justify a starting point of imprisonment.

CoA:

In respect of the breach of non-publication orders, the Judge noted the Crown submission that the maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment be adopted as the start point. The Judge categorised these breaches as blatant and contemptuous and noted Mr Nottingham showed no remorse.

In respect of the combined total starting point of two years and four months’ imprisonment, he then gave a four-month discount to reflect what he described as Mr Nottingham’s “multi-faceted and complex” health problems, 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 that the Judge give consideration to home detention which, consistent with authority, he recognised as having a general and specific deterrence value.

He said he regarded home detention as an appropriate and sufficient response.

The indicated months’ home detention sentence was then apportioned in the way we have previously indicated. 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.

Again Nottingham seems to be speaking on behalf of whoever posted at LF:

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”.

How would he know what the design of the posts was if he wasn’t involved?

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.

Ms Brook submitted that manifest inadequacy arises primarily from the wayin which the sentences were structured, and in particular, what she says was an excessive discount for totality. She submitted that the final sentence should have been in the region of three years five months’ imprisonment, made up of cumulative sentences, save that the sentences for the two breaches of the suppression order were properly imposed concurrently with each other and cumulatively on the sentences for criminal harassment.

…Ms Brook therefore submitted that the Judge’s sentence should be quashed and a new sentence imposed in the region of two years and 10 months’ imprisonment.

We accept Ms Brook’s submission that the offending against C and T justified a 12-month starting point for each.
The language used was particularly demeaning and offensive and the fact that a photograph was taken of T without her knowledge and subsequently published must have been calculated to add to her insecurity.

The offending against B, H and M was not as serious, although there were strongly misogynistic elements in the articles about B and H and the implication that M was corrupt was clearly a very damaging one given the nature of his employment.

We consider cumulative sentences of six months (in relation to the offending against B), five months (in relation to the offending against H) and five months (in relation to the offending against M) appropriate.

In respect of the breach of suppression offences, we agree with the Judge that they were sufficiently interconnected and similar in kind to attract concurrent.

Discount for poor health

In respect of the Judge’s four-month discount for ill health, we consider that he was particularly well placed to make the necessary assessment.

We agree with the Judge that Mr Nottingham presented with a complex combination of physical and mental health problems. Several reports identify him as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) attributable to childhood
trauma and although Dr Skipworth says this diagnosis “is controversial in cases of life-long trauma such as Mr Nottingham describes”, nevertheless he accepts it is one way clinicians choose to diagnose and understand “long-term personality dysfunction, interpersonal relational difficulties, cognitive impairment and mood dysregulation in presentations such as Mr Nottingham’s”.

We also note a diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury sustained in a high-speed motorcycle accident in 1996 and a further serious motorcycle accident in 2016 which Dr Walls was concerned had “significantly aggravated the old traumatic brain injury”.

Likewise, Mr Nottingham suffers from a significant number of physical impairments, principal among them recurrent and serious atrial fibrillation. This condition in turn compounds the congestive heart failure from which he also suffers. Multiple hospital admissions have resulted.

Overall, we are not persuaded that the Judge was wrong to make the allowance he did.

There’s not doubt there are serious health issues (and more than what is stated here), and that prison would impose more hardship than normal.

With such a dire health report I wonder that there would be far better and more important things to do than harass people and get bogged down in lengthy court procedures.

Combining the totality and health discounts, we therefore arrive at a sentence of 31 months’ imprisonment which is approximately 30 per cent higher than the Judge’s end point.

In re-sentencing Mr Nottingham we are, however, obliged to take into account the three and a half months of home detention he has 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. We consider that to be an appropriate sentence, particularly having regard to:

(a) Mr Nottingham’s physical and mental health, which we consider would make the consequences of imprisonment disproportionately severe;

(b) the opportunity to direct participation in rehabilitative programmes, as recognised by the Judge; and

(c) the ability to protect the interests of the complainants and the community by the imposition of restrictive conditions of internet access, again as recognised and directed by the Judge.

I hope the complainants and other victims are adequately protected.

With no sign of acceptance of responsibility nor remorse I have doubts about the prospects of rehabilitative programmes having much impact.

Our approach is therefore to impose concurrent sentences, as follows:

(a) in respect of the offending against C, 12 months’ home detention, concurrent with all other sentences;

(b) in respect of the offending against T, 12 months’ home detention, concurrent with all other sentences;

(c) in respect of the offending against B, eight months’ home detention, concurrent with all other sentences;

(d) in respect of the offending against H, six months’ home detention, concurrent with all other sentences;

(e) in respect of the offending against M, six months’ home detention, concurrent with all other sentences; and

(f) in respect of each breach of suppression, five months’ home detention concurrent with all other sentences.

The existing (part-served) sentence of home detention is quashed.

A new sentence of 12 months’ home detention (with identified concurrent home detention sentences) plus 100 hours’ community work is imposed, subject to the same conditions as imposed by the District Court.

That’s additional to the three and a half months home detention already served.

I’m aware there are some people who claim to have been badly affected by attacks by Nottingham and his cronies think that prison is deserved, but (and I haven’t been as severely affected) I don’t have a problem with the end sentence, despite him continuing with attacks and harassment while facing the charges this sentence applies to.

However if Nottingham offends again he would deserve what Court should then deal him.

I note that Nottingham tried to get a judge to put me “in prison by Christmas” in 2015 – for (allegedly and incorrectly) enabling people to find his posts at LF. But as with his double standards on name suppression – abusing and breaching it for others but claiming it for himself (as did Cameron Slater), what he wanted to inflict on others was something he tried to weasel out of for himself.

Full judgment: NOTTINGHAM v R [2019] NZCA 344 [30 July 2019]

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.

Dermot Nottingham sentenced for criminal harassment, suppression breaches

Dermot Nottingham was sentenced in the Auckland District Court yesterday for breaching suppression, and for five counts of criminal harassment.

Internet blogger Dermot Nottingham was sentenced today in the Auckland District Court. Photo / Sam Hurley

The person who has also been harassing me online and through litigation

He was charged in April 2015 – see  the year he was charged, and he and associates of his continued harassing others after that – including me extensively, and others who were and are associated with Your NZ.

And it seems that Nottingham remains unrepentant,

It seems remarkable that he avoided a prison sentence, despite the Crown prosecutor suggesting a four year sentence. He was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and 100 hours’ community work. Thee prosecutor said an appeal of the sentence would be up to the crown law office.

Nottingham plead not guilty and defended himself, and says he will appeal the conviction. That is no surprise – I need to be cautious at the moment about how much I say, but he is currently attempting what would be the third appeal on costs awarded against him as a result of a failed private prosecution  of me and others.

He is also currently involved in court proceedings with an attempt being made to have him declared bankrupt for failure to pay substantial court costs (I am one creditor).

See:

Also:

I and Allied Press were charged at the same time as Prentice and APN (Herald) but our cases were transferred to where they should have been laid, Dunedin.

NZ Herald has details: Blogger dodges prison over court suppression breaches, harassment campaigns

A blogger described as “malicious and nasty” has narrowly avoided prison after breaching suppression orders in a prominent Auckland court case and leading a prolonged campaign of criminal harassment against five people, including a former MP.

Dermot Gregory Nottingham was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and 100 hours’ community work today in the Auckland District Court, after what Judge Jonathan Down described as a blatant and contemptuous breach of court orders and an arrogant view of right and wrong.

A jury found Nottingham guilty of five criminal harassment charges and two breaches of court suppression orders following a trial, in which Nottingham represented himself, during April and May.

In 2014, the brothers pleaded guilty to assault, were discharged without conviction and granted permanent name suppression by the High Court.

Just days later, Nottingham wrote his blogs naming the two brothers and publishing photos of them alongside details of the case.

Nottingham said of the breach: “It would seem odd to be punished for supplying information to an overseas website about two killers that received no punishment.”

Even more odd than Nottingham’s denial of doing anything wrong is his attempt to prosecute others for (he alleged) breaching suppression by helping people to search for and find the information he ‘supplied’.

As a result of Nottingham’s disregard for the court’s order, a police detective began investigating the website and found “several campaigns of harassment”.

Some of the five people identified as potential victims had gone to police but were told officers could do nothing, the court heard.

Nottingham’s harassment against his victims, all of whom have permanent name suppression, took place between 2011 and 2015.

And continued after he was charged, against me and others. It wasn’t just him involved, there were others actively involved as well. I won’t name them at this stage, until I find out what is able to be said – but there’s a lot to this story, and it is time it came out.

The blogger’s targets included business people, civil servants, and a former Member of Parliament.

Photos were taken of them and their homes and the allegations published online falsely claimed drug abuse and corruption.

Some long time regulars here will recognise how similar that sounds to what was published online about me and commenters from YourNZ – after Nottingham was charged. It may not have been him doing it, but it was closely associated with him.

Nottingham also made a veiled violent threat against one victim and wrote “two shots to be sure” alongside the person’s name.

One of the victims said they had been stalked and photographed, with their images appearing on the blog page.

I have posted here about veiled threats against me. Photos of me and my house were posted online.

And serious accusations made against me and others were simply made up, false. Some of my family were threatened and implicated in conspiracies. This was all done at least by people associated with or related to Nottingham, and he did have some direct involvement here.

Brian Dickey, Auckland’s crown solicitor, said Nottingham’s harassment was at the high end of the criminal spectrum, calling it “so malicious, so nasty”.

The prosecutor said the offending articles remained on the internet and are displayed prominently when the victims’ names are entered into a Google search.

“He shows absolutely no insight into his offending, no remorse.”

That is remarkable the articles still remain online.

Nottingham had, in part, argued a prison sentence would be manifestly excessive due to his health complications, some of which saw him hospitalised for a week during the trial.

However, Dickey attempted to rebut the claims by arguing Nottingham’s health would improve if he lost some weight.

Dickey also strongly opposed home detention and sought a sentence of up to four years imprisonment.

Nottingham said he never intended to threaten the safety of his victims, but Dickey was concerned he would now simply use someone else’s computer or phone to continue his harassment.

“And our business with Mr Nottingham will continue,” Dickey told Judge Down.

Good. So will mine.

Nottingham tried to ague at trial that his “articles” were covered by freedom of expression rights.

Bullshit. He blatantly broke the law.

And he’s a huge hypocrite. He and his cronies used a ridiculous court order to try and shut me up and shut YourNZ down.  See Court order discharged .

“People have different opinions about what is said in articles,” he said today. “The articles contained words that the jury found offensive … I’m not a bully.”

In my opinion he is a highly vindictive vexatious bullying bastard. I know others have similar opinions of him.

However, Judge Down said the right to free speech or freedom of expression is not a paramount right.

Nottingham, nonetheless, stood by his blogs and said his words remained true and would survive a defamation trial.

He also blamed his victims and said, “if they had been honest … none of this would have occurred”.

He keeps failing to accept any responsibility, and keeps blaming others – I have many examples of this that I hope to be able to reveal at some stage.

The judge the “unique” case showed Nottingham had an abrasive and combative approach to others.

“Mr Nottingham is unlikely to accept what he did was not only unlawful but reprehensible,” he said.

What he was charged for was reprehensible – and there’s a lot more, from my own experience and from what others have told me.

Why no prison sentence? He actually tried to get me imprisoned (December 2015 ‘in prison by Christmas’) because I stood up to his threats and bullying.

Nottingham has indicated he will appeal the jury’s verdicts, while Dickey told the Herald a potential appeal of the sentence would be a decision for the Crown Law Office.

I hope they carefully consider that.

When I get clarification on the status of suppression orders – while he claims free speech for himself Nottingham used courts to shut me up – I may give more detail on this.

In the meantime, no naming (or hinting) of the offending website please, that will be strictly moderated.

Given that Nottingham tried (and failed) to  prosecute the Herald for breaching suppressions (that he breached himself) my assumption is that they have carefully complied with any existing suppression orders in there article.

Still, please take care with what you say, but those of you here who were also targets may feel that some degree of free speech may be appropriate.

Nottingham has threatened me with further prosecutions and legal actions as recently as this year. I will continue to stand up to his bullying, but I will do it prudently.

Google and other problems with NZ suppression law

Court suppression orders are difficult to deal with in the Internet age.

In the past media like newspapers had court reporters who were aware of what cases were suppressed and complied with suppression orders where appropriate.

But social media has introduced major problems – it is easy for just about anyone to say things (publish) online, but it is impossible for most of us to know what is suppressed, so we don’t know what can’t be legally published.

And another big problem is that major online content providers/publishers are based out of New Zealand, like Google, Facebook and Twitter. And Google says they are not bound by New Zealand law.

NZH: Google ‘thumbs its nose’ at New Zealand courts – lawyer

In high-profile cases covered by the Herald in recent months, Google NZ along with New Zealand’s major media outlets have been served with orders which suppress details and require the removal of content that infringes on privacy or fair trial rights.

However, Google says it’s “not in the business of censoring news” and won’t comply because its search engine is bound by the laws enforced at its home, the Googleplex, in California’s Silicon Valley.

The result means some information suppressed by New Zealand’s courts can be revealed in a Google search.

The problems and Google’s place in New Zealand’s courtrooms was an issue last year during the High Court retrial of double-killer Zarn Tarapata.

An interim take-down order for all content related to Tarapata’s first trial was made to protect his fair trial rights and suppress evidence which was ruled inadmissible.

The Herald and other media organisations opposed the order but were ultimately forced to comply and removed stories about Tarapata’s first trial to avoid being held in contempt of court.

However, despite having an Auckland office, Google NZ said it couldn’t remove details of the stories from its searchable records.

In an affidavit to the court, Google NZ software engineer Joseph Bailey, wrote: “Google New Zealand Limited has no ability to comply with the interim orders.”

He explained that the Google search engine, Google LLC, was a separate legal entity incorporated in the US, meaning New Zealand’s courts and laws held no power over it.

The company also said it would require a “perpetual review” to find the “trillions of webpages currently existing on the web, but also those which are subsequently created” that breached the court orders.

…a Google spokesman said: “We don’t allow these kinds of autocomplete predictions or related searches that violate laws or our own policies and we have removed examples we’ve been made aware.”

He said while Google NZ was bound by New Zealand laws, Google LLC was not.

“Google LLC prefers for news publishers to make their own decisions about whether their content should be available online,” he said.

Even for small publishers it can be a daunting task trying to monitor all content, especially when not knowing what is suppressed by court orders.

Prominent human rights and privacy lawyer Michael Bott said Google was “thumbing its nose” and “expressing a high-degree of arrogance” at court orders, threatening fair trial rights and due process.

Bott accepted however it was a “fine line” between attempting to control Google – like China – and protecting the foundations of a liberal democracy.

“In a liberal democracy we have the rule of law. If Google doesn’t follow take-down orders on the basis that it’s an international company based in California, well that maybe true, but it also ignores the reality of the internet,” he said.

But there’s another significant problem – take down orders, even if you can get one, can take quite a bit of time, and even if successful can be like shutting the stable door well after the story has bolted around the Internet.

I think that most people accept that suppression in some cases is important, especially when protecting the identity of victims of crime, especially children.

But I think that protecting the right to a fair trial via suppression can be virtually unworkable in the Internet age. Courts need to find a different way of dealing with this.

While I understand the argument for protecting rights to a fair trial i think that it needs to be reviewed, taking into account the practicalities of the use of the Internet.

There was recent example of failed suppression in Dunedin recently when a young woman was murdered. The name of the accused was published and circulated in social media before a suppression order was issued by the Court.

I have personal experience with abuse suppression in the courts. It was used to gag me while running an online campaign of harassment and defamation against me online, and if I confronted this online I was threatened with prosecution for breaching suppression, while the group attacking me claimed immunity because they claimed their publications were not in new Zealand, so therefore immune from New Zealand law.

So they used New Zealand law to gag me, while publishing offshore to avoid new Zealand law.

I am still gagged on this. I hope that that will be ending soon, but given the blatant hypocrisy of those involved they may try to keep their legal and personal abuses secret.

The Google (and Facebook et al) problem with suppression is not adequately addressed by New Zealand law and court practices, and neither is the use and abuse of suppression on a smaller and wider scale.

 

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.

Gedsid on Salter’s suppression

Professor Andrew Gesdid posts on the numerous ironies associated with Camenor Staler’s suppression issues at Pundit:

A blogger’s own campaign to have name suppression laws tightened has resulted in that blogger being refused name suppression after pleading guilty to his own illegal activities. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

By now we all know (or, rather, those of us at all interested in the often schoolyard antics of the NZ blogosphere know) that some blogger who used to be semi-famous has admitted the crime of paying an alleged fraudster to hack into the blog of some lefty enemies in order to try and find out who they are, because politics. 

So far, so par for the course in Crazytown.

But what really, really, really provides the bright red cherry of ironyon top of this delicious confection of egomaniacal delusions of being able to engage in House-of-Cards-style chicanery is the fact that the blogger who used to be semi-famous (Mr Salter, I believe)sought to have his involvement in this escapade suppressed by the Courts. Yes, the same Mr Satler who pursued a wonky jihad in opposition to the very concept of name suppression went in front of the District Court and had the gall, the sheer bare-faced effrontery, to ask that he be given the protection of the very laws he had campaigned so hard to have abolished.

That’s all for here. It’s worth reading through – Time, which sees all things, has found you out.

On suppression

There’s been quite a few comments on suppression lately, most trying to compromise this site, but some seem to not understand how suppression works.

This is as far as I understand it.

Courts can order name suppression up to blanket case suppression.

With name suppresssion you can publish details of a case as long as you don’t name or identify the persion with suppression.

With blanket suppression you are unable to publish any details of the case or name or identify anyone involved in the case realtive to the case.

But this shouldn’t stop you publishing about things that are unrelated to cases.

For example if John Key was involved in a case in the 90s and was granted permanent name suppression that doesn’t mean you can’t name him in political stories and commentary now.

Most people are completely unaware of suppressions that are in place so we have the strange situation where you are supposed to avoid publishing on things you don’t know about.

I think all regulars here are well aware of the responsibilities on suppression and are appropriately prudent.

When you get a new name show up posting a potentially actionable comment and then disappearing it’s kinda obvious that the intent is malicious.

PLEASE NOTE: if you want to discuss suppression in general terms then go ahead. But don’t mention any names or details about any cases that you know or think could be subject to suppression.

If anyone comments here and compromises this site by deliberately breaching any court ordered suppression then you will be held responsible for your actions.

Suppression to continue until trial, whenever

The blanket name and details suppression involving a ‘prominent New Zealander’ will to continue until the person stands trial, whenever that will be (a trial date hasn’t been set yet).

3 News – Name suppression continues for prominent New Zealander

A prominent New Zealander accused of a raft of sex crimes has won their battle to keep their identity a secret.

At their last court appearance in February, Judge Roy Wade rejected their bid for continued name suppression but gave them one more month of protection so they had the chance to appeal.

The person’s lawyer was in the High Court at Auckland this afternoon, appealing an earlier decision to lift their client’s name suppression.

After a six-hour hearing, Justice Raynor Asher agreed, ruling the accused could keep their name under wraps until their trial.

The person has pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of indecent assault against two complainants, and has elected to face the charges before a jury.

This is presumably the case there has been a lot of speculation about.

Winston Peters has proposed to deal with this sort of thing in his Northland by-election campaign – see Winston Peters pledges to remove paedophiles’ name suppression:

“There have been so many cases of sexual violence in New Zealand where the offender hides behind a cloak of secrecy imposed on the basis that secrecy protects the victim.”

He said his bill would remove that “legal cone of silence” in cases where the victim wanted the crime exposed.

He said NZ First would also propose a sex offender register, so parents would know if there was a child sex offender in their neighbourhood.

It’s unlikely National would agree to do anything like this with Peters.

Has Slater breached suppression, and can Freed trust him?

In a post on Whale Oil today Cameron Slater must have come very close to breaching a suppression order, or blatantly breached it (I’m not sure of the legal specifics. I won’t link to it here to be safe.

It was so risky head moderator Peter Belt shut comments and posted this comment saying he “expressed my displeasure at this article to Cam last night”.

[MOD] Every time there are posts like this, I end up banning people. If you can’t play the game, then just pass these sorts of articles by. For the record, I expressed my displeasure at this article to Cam last night. Guess what? It’s his blog, and I don’t have the final say. I think it’s a stupid piece to write, and all it does is makes work for me and the other mods, “good” people end up being banned because they blunder into our no-tolerance on name suppression issues enforcement, and it attracts a wave of trolls that (generally successfully) manage to tip veteran commenters into making mistakes.

I get this wrong, and we face a $100,00 fine and/or 6 months in jail. That’s MY perspective. If you can’t figure out how to comment on posts like this PASS THEM BY.

Finally, this is Cam’s blog, and when the National Party in a number of it’s guises shit on him from a great height, I can’t blame him for acting on that. Most of the time he’s a bit more subtle than today, but I think there is a message that is being sent that probably has nothing to do with you, our readers.

I’m closing this article to comments, because I have work to do.

So he was concerned about the content of the post. I’m not surprised. But it became bizarre when he warned and banned commenters for also risking breaching the suppression.

Belt has already fundraised to help pay Slater’s legal bills.

It looks like quite a few comments could have disappeared since they were posted.

But before he closed comments Slater posted a few of his own.

I owe National nothing…I’m not even a member. I call things as I see them…this is just one such thing that I think needs attention.

I am not a sycophant and never will be.

And:

They can think what they like. I know what is reality. I am not in control of the feeble minds of others.

This on top of recent posts and comments where Slater has made it clear he does as he pleases and is not controlled by anyone I would suspect Freed is more than a little concerned about the risks of an uncontrolled beast if they ever get around to launching.

Are politicians and police covering up a very dirty not-very–secet?

I’ve just read a post at a blog with a record of breaking supression orders, so I won’t link to it.

It details a number of known facts, plus information that matches rumours I’ve heard, and additional detail.

It’s particulrly disturbing.

First I’ll say that if they are inaccurate then it’s awful for those named to be associated unfairly. That’s can be a risk of suppression of information of something that many people have an interest in and a determination to make public.

But it talks of erring MPs and political and police cover-ups that could be protecting their own.

And it talks of sexual assault against children.

If true this is extremely serious. And it needs to be dealt with. If those who should won’t deal with it then it’s up to others to make it impossible for them not to.