Amazing! NZ adopts a sensible approach

Hypocrites from left, Sarah Yates, Gina Mitchell, Olga Darkadaki, Eli Steentjes.
– Stuff

Last Thursday Stuff reported:

[…] Sarah Anne Yates?pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully getting onto a ship and wilful trespass in connection with the January 31 protest, which saw her and four other?[hypocrites] break into?Port Taranaki?and illegally board?The Mermaid Searcher.

The ship was?collecting supplies for the Amazon Warrior, a Schlumberger-owned vessel?carrying out seismic surveying off the Taranaki coast.

Last week, Yates’ co-offenders?Nick Hanafin?and Olga Darkadaki appeared in court and pleaded guilty to charges they each?faced.?Hanafin pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully getting onto a ship and wilful trespass.?Darkadaki?pleaded guilty to unlawfully getting onto a ship.

The trio will be sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court on May 28.

Eli Steentjes and Gina Mitchell, who are also facing charges connected to the protest, will reappear on?April 19.[…]

I wondered why this bunch of hypocrites did not use the “necessity defence” as it seems to work very well in the USA.

The Boston Herald reports:

A Boston judge has cleared a group of climate protesters who were facing criminal charges stemming from a 2016 protest over a pipeline in West Roxbury, citing the necessity of their actions in a potentially landmark ruling.

?It may well be the first of its kind in a case involving climate change, in that it?s a judicial recognition of the measures that we need to take to address climate change,? said Andrew Fischer, an attorney for some of the defendants. ?In that sense, it is a revolutionary step.?

The protesters, including Karenna Gore, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, were facing charges of trespassing and disturbing the peace after climbing into a construction trench. On Tuesday, prosecutors asked a judge to convert the criminal charges into civil infractions, saying in the event of a conviction they were unlikely to ask for any further punishment. After allowing the motion, Judge Mary Ann Driscoll found the defendants not responsible, saying she agreed with their argument that their actions were necessary to combat climate change.

?Based on the very heartfelt expressions of the defendants who believe, and I don?t question their beliefs in any respect, who believe in their cause because they believe they were entitled to invoke the necessity defense, I?ll accept what they said,? Driscoll said.

Your Honour, I had a heartfelt belief that taxes were being wasted on silly projects like trams down Dominion Road so I thought that I should do all I could to reduce the amount that the government could waste in this way. That is why I really needed to rip off the DSW and fraudulently claim benefits that I was not entitled to.

It seems the Brits were also up for this sort of stupidity in 2008, as reported in the Guardian:

Six Greenpeace climate change activists have been cleared of causing ?30,000 of criminal damage at a coal-fired power station in a verdict that is expected to embarrass the government and lead to more direct action protests against energy companies. […]

The activists admitted trying to shut down the [Kingsnorth power] station by occupying the smokestack and painting the word “Gordon” down the chimney, but argued that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world. It was the first case in which preventing property damage caused by climate change had been used as part of a “lawful excuse” defence in court. It is now expected to be used more widely by environment groups.

In his summing-up at the end of an eight-day trial, the judge, David Caddick, said the case centred on whether or not the protesters had a lawful excuse for their actions. He told the jury that for this defence to be used it had to be proved that the action was due to an immediate need to protect property belonging to another. […]

John Price, prosecuting, had earlier argued that the protesters’ actions were “not capable of being lawful”. He said: “There are things you can lawfully do in making a protest but there’s a line which has to be drawn. When the defendants caused damage to that chimney, it’s the line that they crossed.”[…]

The court was told that some of the property in immediate need of protection included parts of Kent at risk from rising sea levels, the Pacific island state of Tuvalu and areas of Greenland. The defendants also cited the Arctic ice sheet, China’s Yellow River region, the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica, coastal areas of Bangladesh and the city of New Orleans.[…]

Ten years’ later we are still waiting for Tuvalu to disappear under the sea, but hey, there was an immediate need in 2008.

The Guardian concluded by listing other such cases:

In the last 12 years, court cases involving GM crops and nuclear, chemical and arms companies collapsed after protesters said they had followed their consciences and had been trying to prevent a greater crime.

? 2000 Norwich jury found Greenpeace director Lord Melchett and 27 activists not guilty of causing criminal damage to field of GM crops

? 2000 Five Greenpeace volunteers found not guilty of criminal damage after occupying incinerator

? 1999 Three women cleared of causing ?80,000 damage to Trident nuclear submarine computer equipment

? 1996 Liverpool jury acquitted four women who caused ?1.5m damage to Hawk fighter jet at British Aerospace factory

So, back to New Zealand, why did the local hypocrites, who turned up for their Court Hearings in their hair shirts and hemp underwear (NOT), plead guilty rather than using the “necessity defence”?

It seems that one cannot use this defence in New Zealand.? The NZ Law Commission discusses this here

In?Kapi, the Court of Appeal opined that the [necessity] defence, if it existed in New Zealand, would require at least:? … a belief formed on reasonable grounds of imminent peril of death or serious injury. Breach of the law then is excused only where there was no realistic choice but to act in that way. Even then the response can be excused only where it is proportionate to the peril.

Not being a lawyer I will not delve into the arguments that preceded that statement but I am pleased to note that we have some sensible results from our Courts of Appeal rulings.

As for the five hypocrites who turned up at court wearing clothes with a very high proportion of petrochemical-derived products, all five have plastic zippers for a start, I presume that the sentences will ultimately be a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket and probably a discharge without conviction.

It is high time the Courts got serious with these hypocrites and threw the book at them.